The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

"Wrykyn will do him a world of good. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. if he sweats. Last year he had been tried once or twice. I bet he does. you little beast. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. His third remark was of a practical nature. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. who had shown signs of finishing it. He was a sound bat." "Considering there are eight old colours left. "Go on with your breakfast. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much." she muttered truculently through it. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. The door opened. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. and the missing member of the family appeared. "All right. He might get his third. In face. He was fond of him in the abstract. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season." Bob was in Donaldson's. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term. Mike was her special ally. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside. That's one comfort. Bob disdained to reply. This year it should be all right." she said. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters." she said. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. but preferred him at a distance. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket." said Bob loftily. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. Marjory gave tongue again." was his reference to the sponge incident. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. Marjory. "Hullo." This was mere stereo." "We aren't in the same house. "Anyhow. anyway." he said. Jackson intervened. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. "sorry I'm late. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. he was curiously like his brother Joe." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. Marjory. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. "I bet he gets in before you. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. . His figure was thin and wiry. Mrs." The aspersion stung Marjory.

Mike Wryky. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. but the style was there already. Saunders. Mike was his special favourite. "Mike. Jackson believed in private coaching." he said. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. ages ago. "Mike. Saunders. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term."I say. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. and every spring since Joe. The strength could only come with years. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. "Mike. Mike put on his pads. sound article. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. Gladys Maud Evangeline. the professional. Joe's style. There was nothing the matter with Bob. Mike looked round the table. you're going to Wrykyn next term." "Is he. It was a great moment. obliged with a solo of her own composition. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus." she said. "I say. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. as follows: "Mike Wryky. In Bob he would turn out a good." began Mr. But he was not a cricket genius. put a green baize cloth over that kid. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Whereat Gladys Maud." "Oh. with improvements. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. suddenly drew a long breath. "Good. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. you know." shouted Marjory. you're going to Wrykyn. somebody." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" ." From Phyllis. in six-eight time. the eldest of the family. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. Mr. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. assisted by the gardener's boy. So was father. what's under that dish?" "Mike." From Ella. was engaged in putting up the net. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. aged three. like Mike." groaned Bob. "All the boys were there.

miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. Still. but I meant next term. Saunders. Master Mike? Play. Joe's got. you see. it was all there. we'll hope for the best. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. as she returned the ball. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. miss. and nineteen perhaps. every bit. and it stands to reason they're stronger." "Ah." "No. The whole thing is. What are they like?" "Well."School team. It would be a record if he did. miss." "But Mike's jolly strong. I'm not saying it mightn't be. "Well. It's all there." Marjory sat down again beside the net. with Master Mike. Saunders?" she asked. only all I say is don't count on it. miss. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. perhaps. That's what he'll be playing for. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. Going to a public school. miss. There's a young gentleman. a sort of pageant. Saunders? He's awfully good. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. especially at . CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. You know these school professionals. he was playing more strongly than usual. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. in a manner of speaking." As Saunders had said. it's this way. To-day. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. Don't you think he might. miss. too. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. and that's where the runs come in. and watched more hopefully. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. I was only saying don't count on it. I don't. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting." said the professional. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. miss. isn't he? He's better than Bob. It's quite likely that it will. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. He's got as much style as Mr." "Yes. "He hit that hard enough. didn't he. Ready." Saunders looked a little doubtful. you see. "Next term!" he said.

there was Bob. He was excited. On the other hand. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. Phyllis. the train drew up at a small station. in his opinion. was on the verge of the first eleven. and his reflections. the village idiot. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. Meanwhile. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. According to Bob they had no earthly. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. however. and he was nothing special. Bob. and now the thing had come about. Donaldson's. smiling vaguely. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. in time to come down with a handsome tip). Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Gladys Maud cried. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. by all accounts. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. He wore a bowler hat. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. and Mrs. nor profound. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. Bob. The latter were not numerous. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. with rather a prominent nose. and carried a small . He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. though evidently some years older. was to board the train at East Wobsley. It might be true that some day he would play for England. He had a sharp face. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. but then Bob only recognised one house. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. The air was full of last messages.the beginning of the summer term. Mothers. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. Mr. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. The train gathered speed. frankly bored with the whole business. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. And as Marjory. He was alone in the carriage. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. is no great hardship. his magazines. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. While he was engaged on these reflections.

let him ask for it. Besides." "Here you are. The other made no overtures. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. which is always fatal. Judging by appearances. "Porter. the bag had better be returned at once. sir. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read." "Thank you. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. lying snugly in the rack. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. He realised in an instant what had happened. instead. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag.portmanteau. stared at Mike again. Mike acted from the best motives. but. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. sir." said Mike to himself. He opened the door. He did not like the looks of him particularly. He was only travelling a short way." "No chance of that. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. "Good business. I regret to say. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines." "Because. If he wanted a magazine. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. you know. sir. he seemed to carry enough side for three." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. and took the seat opposite to Mike. but. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. The trainwas already moving quite fast. Anyhow. and finally sat down. That explained his magazineless condition. got up and looked through the open window. then. And here. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. and wondered if he wanted anything. thought Mike. and at the next stop got out. The fellow had forgotten his bag. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. He seemed about to make some remark. . after all." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes.

The head was surmounted by a bowler." The situation was becoming difficult. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. escaped with a flesh wound." explained Mike. "There's nothing to laugh at. "I thought you'd got out there for good. "Hullo." said the stranger. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. "Don't _grin_. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." said Mike. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. Mike grinned at the recollection. "The fact is." Against his will." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. This was one of them. "Then.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. which did not occur for a good many miles. looking out of the window. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity.(Porter Robinson. you little beast. ." "It wasn't that. and said as much. dash it." said Mike. "I chucked it out. "I'm awfully sorry. It hit a porter. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. Then it ceased abruptly. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. "Have you changed carriages." The guard blew his whistle. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it. What you want is a frightful kicking." said Mike hurriedly. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. and." he shouted." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. who happened to be in the line of fire. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. I say. or what?" "No. and the other jumped into the carriage. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. though not intentionally so.

Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. if I were in Wyatt's place. and all that sort of thing. I mean. are you in Wain's?" he said." said Bob. I say." "Frightful nuisance. He realised that school politics were being talked. "Oh. "I swear. I should rot about like anything. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. Mike. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. holidays as well as term."Hullo. Lots of things in it I wanted. listening the while. rather lucky you've met. though not aggressive. Good cricketer and footballer. Gazeka?" "Yes. "I say. It's bound to turn up some time. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all." "Naturally. and it's at a station miles back. there you are. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. and yet they have to be together. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. They'll send it on by the next train. all the same. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow." "Oh. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past." said Mike. He took up his magazine again. "It must be pretty rotten for him. They were discussing Wain's now. He's in your house." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. "Hullo." agreed Firby-Smith. what happened was this." "Frightful." "Oh." "You're a bit of a rotter. Bob. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it." said Bob. "He and Wain never get on very well. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term. only he hadn't really. never mind. "I've made rather an ass of myself." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. thinking he'd got out. then it's certain to be all right." "I mean. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. it's a bit thick. It's just the sort . it's all right. By the way. He grinned again. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required.

that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. But here they were alone. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column." he said.of life he'll hate most. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. Mike. See you later. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. and it's the only Christian train they run. Mike started out boldly. I think you'd better nip up to the school. has no perplexities. To the man who knows. and lost his way. and a straw hat with a coloured band. and so on. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. "Heaps of them must come by this line. Crossing the square was a short. on alighting. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. Hullo." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. So long. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. and. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. it is simplicity itself. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre." Bob looked at Mike. Plainly a Wrykynian. Go in which direction he would." Mike looked out of the window. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom." he concluded airily. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. with a happy inspiration. a blue blazer. Mike made for him. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. . which is your dorm. Probably Wain will want to see you. They'll send your luggage on later. and tell you all about things. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. leaving him to find his way for himself. Go straight on. and looked about him. Silly idea. here we are. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers. all more or less straight. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. It was Wrykyn at last." he said.

too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. How did you know my name. "Hullo. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. "Pity. it was really awfully rotten bowling. square-jawed face. He's in Donaldson's." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. shuffling. you know." said the other. please. You know. "You look rather lost."Can you tell me the way to the school. you're going to the school. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. There's no close season for me. latest model. And . Any more centuries?" "Yes." said the stranger." said Mike. "How many?" "Seven altogether. He had a pleasant. Only a private school. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked." "Oh. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. you know. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing." "Are you there." said Mike." said Mike." "I know." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. "It was only against kids. this is fame. So you're the newest make of Jackson. A stout fellow. then?" asked Mike. too?" "I played a bit at my last school. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. are you Wyatt." he said. You can't quite raise a team." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three." added Mike modestly. He felt that they saw the humour in things." said Mike awkwardly. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. "That's pretty useful. "Oh.

it's jolly big. but that's his misfortune. down in the Easter holidays. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. That's his. answering for himself." "Oh. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. I know. Let's go in here. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome." said Mike cautiously. where." "All the same. too. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. "I say. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. the grounds. He felt out of the picture. "He's all right." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. You come along. Mike followed his finger." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. a shade too narrow . Everything looked so big--the buildings. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term." said Wyatt. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. They skirted the cricket field. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. a beautiful piece of turf." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. and took in the size of his new home. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. The next terrace was the biggest of all. At the top of the hill came the school. He's head of Wain's.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." said Mike. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. everything. Look here. cut out of the hill. At Emsworth. We all have our troubles. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. And my pater always has a pro. I believe. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling." "Yes. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner." said Mike. thanks awfully. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. "That's Wain's. We shall want some batting in the house this term. though no games were played on it." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke." he said. which gave me a bit of an advantage. I was just going to have some tea." said Wyatt." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. please. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. "Oh. all right"). "Sugar?" asked Bob. if only for one performance. it is apt to throw us off our balance. Bob was changing into his cricket things. "Well. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. As a rule. but Bob did not know this.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. at school. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life." "Cake?" "Thanks. "Oh." . There is nothing more heady than success. to give him good advice. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there." said Mike. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. "Thanks. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. Beyond asking him occasionally. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. Mike had skipped these years. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. "How many lumps?" "Two. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules." said Mike. and his batting was undeniable. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. and his conscience smote him. all right. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. Mike arrived. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. He was older than the average new boy. when they met. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. Silence. It did not make him conceited.

" said Bob." he said." added Bob. I'm not saying a word against you so far. making things worse. "Look here. thanks. Only you see what I mean. What I mean to say is." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. "What!" said Mike. if you don't watch yourself." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. Bob pulled himself together. I'm not saying anything against you so far. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner." said Bob. filled his cup." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Bob.Silence." "What do you mean?" said Mike. Mike. "You know." said Mike cautiously. "Yes. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake." said Mike. "He needn't trouble. "Like him?" "Yes. "He said he'd look after you. You know. you've got on so well at cricket. Jackson. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. and spoke crushingly. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. "Oh. outraged. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. while Bob." he said. in the third and so on. "It's only this. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. I should take care what . "You've been all right up to now. of course. Look after him! Him!! M. "I can look after myself all right." he said at length.

I wanted to see you. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. But don't let him drag you into anything. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. spoke again. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again." he said. because he's leaving at the end of the term. But don't you go doing it." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. "I promised I would. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves." Mike shuffled. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it." Mike followed him in silence to his study. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. He doesn't care a hang what he does. He felt very sore against Bob. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. young man. young man. Stick on here a bit. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. Not that he would try to. That youth. He's that sort of chap. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. I mean. (Mike disliked being called "young man. of course. he's an awfully good chap. it doesn't matter much for him." said the Gazeka. He's never been dropped on yet. met Mike at the door of Wain's. Thing is." "What do you mean?" "Well. if you want any more tea. "I've been hearing all about you." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. "What rot!" said Mike. A good innings at the third eleven net. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. all spectacles and front teeth. I'm going over to the nets. though. I've got to be off myself." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. "All right. You'd better be going and changing.") "Come up to my study. "Ah. so said're doing with Wyatt. Don't cheek your . Don't make a frightful row in the house.

* * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. and up to his dormitory to change. increased. He got out of bed and went to the window. you can't. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. but with rage and all that sort of thing. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. by a slight sound. It was a lovely night. "Hullo. Specially as there's a good moon." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. or night rather. would just have suited Mike's mood. Cut along." And Wyatt. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself." said Wyatt. wriggled out. You'll find that useful when the time comes. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. not with shame and remorse. "When I'm caught. I shall be deadly. but it was not so easy to do it. he walked out of the room. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. Anyhow. He would have given much to be with him. as I'm morally certain to be some day. He sat up in bed." said Wyatt. of wanting to do something actively illegal. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. and the second time he gave up the struggle. That's all. with or without an air-pistol. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. "No. The room was almost light. you stay where you are." he said. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window.elders and betters. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. Like Eric. but he . Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. just the sort of night on which. Mustn't miss a chance like this." "Are you going out?" "I am. He opened his eyes. too. he burned. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. if he had been at home. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. So long. and hitting it into space every time." "I say. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. Wash. Overcoming this feeling. "Is that you." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. but he had never felt wider awake.

It would be quite safe. This was Life. The next moment. one leading into Wain's part of the house. feeling a new man. as indeed he was. he examined the room." And. Down the stairs. along the passage to the left. Mike recognised it as Mr. He took some more biscuits. The soda-water may have got into his head. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. It was quite late now. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. consoling thought came to him. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. To make himself more secure he locked that door. Then a beautiful. He was not alarmed. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. turning up the incandescent light. After which. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. He had promised not to leave the house. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. and set it going. wound the machine up. There were the remains of supper on the table. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. the other into the boys' section. Field). _". The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. and an apple. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. very loud and nasal. feeling that he was doing himself well. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. Field actually did so. Food. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . Mr."_ Mike stood and drained it in. then. As it swished into the glass. A voice accompanied the banging. he proceeded to look about him. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze.. after a few preliminary chords. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. Wain's. Everybody would be in bed. All thought of risk left him. and there was an end of it. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. He crept quietly out of the dormitory.. He finished it. And this was where the trouble began.realised that he was on parole. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. Mr. perhaps. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors.

The main point." The answer was simple. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window." thought Mike. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. Then he began to be equal to it. that if Mr. and he'd locked one door. the kernel of the whole thing. breathless. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. J. on entering the room. "Now what. and dashed down the dark stairs. It had occurred to him. and get caught. If. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. he opened the window. though it was not likely. Evidently his . to date. His position was impregnable. He jumped out of bed. Two minutes later he was in bed. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. suspicion would be diverted. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. He lay there. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. And at the same time. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. "He'd clear out. and reflected. on the other hand. "would A. This was good. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. was that he must get into the garden somehow. He stopped the gramophone. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. It was open now. but he must not overdo the thing. The handle-rattling was resumed. and could get away by the other. and he sat up. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. the most exciting episode of his life. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. Wain from coming to the dormitory." pondered Mike. Wain. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. he must keep Mr.need to be alarmed. just in time. and warn Wyatt. and found that they were after him.

"I think there must have been a burglar in here. Wain was a tall. Wain hurriedly. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. in spite of his anxiety. sir. sir. sir. sir." . I don't know why I asked." "A noise?" "A row. "_Me_. looking out. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. of course not. and went in. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure." If it was Mr. He spun round at the knock. "Thought I heard a noise. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. thin man. please. catching sight of the gramophone. "Please." said Mike. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. His hair was ruffled. Wain. "Of course not. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. please." "I found the window open. He knocked at the door." "A noise?" "Please. sir. Mike. sir." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. drew inspiration from it. He looked like some weird bird. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. sir." said Mike. Wain continued to stare. Mr." "Looks like it." said Mr. I thought I heard a noise. "So I came down. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. Jackson. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. could barely check a laugh. Mr. All this is very unsettling. He wore spectacles. a row. "Of course not. sir!" said Mike. Wain was standing at the window. He looked about him.retreat had been made just in time. and. Mr.

sir. Wain. There might be a bit of a row on his return. "Who on earth's that?" it said. eliciting sharp howls of pain. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden." said Mr. then tore for the regions at the back."He's probably in the garden. I know. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. sir. sir. The moon had gone behind the clouds. ruminatively. "Not likely. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. An inarticulate protest from Mr. sir. as who should say." cried Mike. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. He felt that all was well. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. "Is that you. Wain." said Wyatt. Wain looked at the shrubbery. you might . _"Et tu." "Yes. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. Jackson." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. He ran to the window." Mr. sir. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression." Mr. such an ass." "Perhaps you are right. "He might be still in the house. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. I mean. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. His knees were covered with mould. Mike stopped. "You young ass.

but you don't understand. and I'll go back to the dining-room." "Please. The thing was. Come in at once. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. you might come down too. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. Wain. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course." "It wasn't that. standing outside with his hands on the sill. "I couldn't find him. so excited. if you like. sir." "That's not a bad idea. sir. come in. "I never saw such a man. Wain was still in the dining-room. Latin and English." " least have the sense to walk quietly. I'll get back. "You're a genius. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. Exceedingly so. "It's miles from his bedroom. "Undoubtedly so. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. till Wain came along. sir. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold.' Ripping it was. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. I will not have it. All right. you see. it was rather a rotten thing to do. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please." "Yes. Have you no sense. Well. "But how the dickens did he hear you. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird." he said." said Mr. He must have got out of the garden. You have been seriously injured." Mike clambered through the window. Or. "You have no business to be excited." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. Exceedingly so" ." Mr. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. You dash along then. I will not have it. It was very wrong of you to search for him." said Mike." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. I suppose. but I turned on the gramophone. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. You will do me two hundred lines. You must tread like a policeman.

James--and you. Mr. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. getting tea ready. "I was under the impression." he said. you understand me? To bed at once. "We might catch him. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. At least Trevor was in the study. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. you will both be punished with extreme severity. The question stung Mr. In these circumstances. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. hanging over space. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. . He loved to sit in this attitude. sir?" said Wyatt. "Stay where you are. and have a look round. preparatory to going on the river. You hear me. And. "only he has got away. Jackson? James. "sir" in public. sir. of Donaldson's. the other outside.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. I must be obeyed instantly. sir. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. watching some one else work. one leg in the room. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes." said Mike." "But the burglar. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. "Under no circumstances whatever. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. It is possible that you mistook my meaning." he said excitedly. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes." "Shall I go out into the garden. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. James." said Mike. It is preposterous. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. He yawned before he spoke. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes." he said. Inordinately so. Clowes was on the window-sill. Wain "father" in private. I will not have boys running about my garden at night. "I thought I heard a noise. Wain into active eruption once more." They made it so. He called Mr. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. Both of you go to bed immediately.

' I say. "One for the pot." "Silly ass. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. I'm thinking of Life. Clowes was tall. Like the heroes of the school stories. Couple of years younger than me. Better order it to-day. Aged fifteen. laddie. where is he? Among the also-rans. My people wanted to send him here. which he was not. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them." "You aren't doing a stroke. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Not a bad chap in his way. Have you got any brothers." said Trevor. Trevor?" "One. "All right." "See it done.'" "You were right there.' That's what I say." breathed Trevor. packing . Where is he? Your brother. 'Good chap. Trevor." said Clowes." "Marlborough." "That shows your sense. I lodged a protest. I mean. Cheek's what I call it." "My mind at the moment. Trevor. we see my brother two terms ago. and very much in earnest over all that he did. I suppose it's fun to him. I have a brother myself. and looked sad." "Too busy. But when it comes to deep thought." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. I have always had a high opinion of your sense.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn." said Clowes." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. If you'd been a silly ass. Consider it unsaid. I said. I often say to people. slicing bread. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. two excess. I say. as our old pal Nero used to remark. "I said. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. I did not. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. I should think. "Come and help. Hence. 'One Clowes is luxury. Tigellinus." "My lad. you slacker. 'and he's all right. That's a thing you couldn't do. Trevor was shorter." said Trevor. you'd have let your people send him here.' At least. but can't think of Life. Did I want them spread about the school? No. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy.

with an unstained reputation. the term's only just started.up his little box. loved by all who know me. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid." "That's just it. At present. You say Jackson's all right. My heart bleeds for Bob. however." "Well?" "Look here." "Why?" "Well. It's the masters you've got to consider. as I said. considering his cricket. he is." he said. so he broods over him like a policeman. so far. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded. it's the limit. who looks on him as no sportsman. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. I suppose." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. It's all right. revered by all who don't. come on." "Young Jackson seems all right. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. and he's very decent. which is what I should do myself. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct." "Jackson's all right. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. At the end of that period. It's just the one used by chaps' people." "What's up? Does he rag?" . For once in your life you've touched the spot. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. Bob seems to be trying the first way. which he might easily do. It may be all right after they're left. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. but while they're there. And here am I at Wrykyn. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present." said Trevor. In other words. Now. too. What's wrong with him? Besides. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. fawned upon by masters. But the term's hardly started yet. "Mr. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. he returned to his subject. but. We were on the subject of brothers at school. If I frown----" "Oh. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. naturally." "What a rotten argument. courted by boys. perhaps. and tooling off to Rugby. I've talked to him several times at the nets.

and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. tell the Gazeka. too. it's the boot every time. But what's the good of worrying. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him." "I know. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. He's asking for trouble."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. I shouldn't think so. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. walking back to the house. Better leave him alone. every other night. however. It's nothing to do with us. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. The odds are. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him." "He never seems to be in extra. and which is bound to make rows between them." Trevor looked disturbed. made it impossible for him to drop the matter." "The Gazeka is a fool. and. unless he leaves before it comes off. he's on the spot. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else." "All front teeth and side." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything." "If you must tell anybody. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. You'd only make him do the policeman business. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has." "I don't know. . which he hasn't time for. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river." "Yes. that he'll be roped into it too. He's head of Wain's. if Jackson's so thick with him. One always sees him about on half-holidays. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. Still. Besides. anyhow. And if you're caught at that game. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. For instance. and does them. Let's stagger out. Well.

all right. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. I spoke to him about it. I say. sitting up." said Bob. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would." "Oh. I meant the one here. It's his last. bewildered. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. I forgot to get the evening paper. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Oh. "I say." "I've done that. Bob. If Wyatt likes to risk it. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. that I know of. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. I think I'll speak to him again. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. Smith said he'd speak to him. oiling a bat. I didn't mean that brother. I think. That's his look out. "That reminds me. Well?" "About your brother." he said. then." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. Are you busy?" "No. He'd have more chance. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. Rather rot." . though." "Don't blame him. J. you know." "That's all right then." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him." "Oh." "I should get blamed. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident." "I should. being in the same house." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. you did? That's all right." "Nor do I. by Jove. "look here. Why?" "It's this way. "My brother. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. W." "I know.He found him in his study. but." "Not a bit. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. I hear.

Better than J. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn.W. I was away a lot." "Hope so. started on his Thucydides. and had beaten them." "Yes. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. I asked him what he thought of me. You have a pro. I simply couldn't do a thing then. and in an instant the place is in a ferment." "Saunders. at home. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. 18. It is just the same with a row." "Sort of infant prodigy." said Trevor. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. even. and he said." "Better than at the beginning of the term." He went back to his study. and there falls on you from space one big drop. Some trivial episode occurs. You were rather in form. Bob. And. it's not been chucked away." "Well. and 51. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. Pretty good for his first term. W. I didn't go to him much this last time. Henfrey'll be captain. when they meet. and Bob. anyhow. Nearly all the first are leaving. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. the pro. he thinks. Mr. don't you?" "Yes. I expect. The next moment the thing has begun. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. and you are standing in a shower-bath. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right.' There's a subtle difference. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. "I thought I heard it go. . when suddenly there is a hush. I suppose he'll get his first next year. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. though. to coach you in the holidays. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term. for years.s. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence.

were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall.S.P. on the back of the envelope. and I got bowled). and Spence). I'll find out and tell you next time I write. so I played. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. On the Monday they were public property. lasted. so we stop from lunch to four. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. I hope you are quite well. B. songs.--Half-a-crown would do. I may get another shot. only I don't quite know where he comes in. So I didn't go in.W. Rot I call it. Still." And. could you? I'm rather broke. but didn't do much. I wasn't in it.--Thanks awfully for your letter. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. Low down. only they bar one another) told me about it. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. and there was rather a row. lengthened by speeches. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. and half the chaps are acting. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. The thing had happened after this fashion. only I'd rather it was five bob. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. Love to everybody. Bob played for the first.W. They stop the cricket on O. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. "P.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. Jones. I believe he's rather sick about it.W. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. The banquet.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. day. the Surrey man.--I say. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. Rather rot. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. "P. as a . "MIKE. and 30 in a form match. I had to dive for it. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. Rather decent. He was in it all right. I didn't do much. because I didn't get an innings. He was run out after he'd got ten. "Your loving son. together with the school choir.S. because they won the toss and made 215. He's Wain's step-son. There's a dinner after the matches on O.

all might yet have been peace. till about ten o'clock. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. and that the criticisms were. as usual. the school. for the honour of the school. it was not considered worth it. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. About midway between Wrykyn. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. Risks which before supper seemed great. rural type of hooliganism. the town. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. Wrykyn. one's views are apt to alter. Words can be overlooked. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. as a rule. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. The school was always anxious for a row. and. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. and Wrykyn.rule. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. and turn in. and the authorities. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. In the present crisis. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. and then race back to their houses. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. show a tendency to dwindle. This was the official programme. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. and had been the custom for generations back. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. It was the custom. . As a rule. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. in the midst of their festivities. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. and hit Wyatt on the right ear." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. Possibly. When. therefore. But tomatoes cannot. the town. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. But there were others. which they used. brainless. accordingly. essentially candid and personal.

The idea was welcomed gladly by all. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. and the procession had halted on the brink. The leaders were beyond recall. and then kicks your shins. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. it looked unspeakable at night. and stampeded as one man. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. . whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. depressed looking pond. panting. But. except the prisoners. but two remained. Barely a dozen remained. while some dear friend of his. at any rate at first. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. of whose presence you had no idea. Wyatt. By the side of the road at this point was a green. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. hits you at the same time on the back of the head." he said quietly. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners.There was a moment of suspense. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. It raged up and down the road without a pause. now splitting up into little groups. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. "Now then. when a new voice made itself heard. It struck Wyatt. for they suddenly gave the fight up. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. They were smarting under a sense of injury. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. Gloomy in the daytime. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. The science was on the side of the school. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. "Let's chuck 'em in there. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring." he said. He very seldom lost his temper. A move was made towards the pond. it was no time for science." it said. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. now in a solid mass.

a yell from the policeman. Don't swallow more than you can help." said Mr. but you ought to know where to stop. or you'll go typhoid. He'll have churned up a bit. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths." "Ho!" said the policeman. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. That's what we are. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. "Make 'em leave hold of us. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. understanding but dimly. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. sprang forward. A howl from the townee. This isn't a lark. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. whoever you are. I expect there are leeches and things there. Constable Butt." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. it's an execution. You can't do anything here." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. Butt. you chaps." said Wyatt. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it. and a splash compared with which . "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. and vanished. Carry on. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. "You run along on your beat." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. a lark's a lark. "All right. young gentleman. you chaps. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. The policeman realised his peril too late." "It's anything but a lark." "I don't want none of your lip. a cheer from the launching party. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. The prisoner did. and suspecting impudence by instinct. scrambled out. going in second. "This is quite a private matter. but if out quick they may not get on to you. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman." said Wyatt. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. are they? Come now. "Ho."What's all this?" "It's all right. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. Butt. Mr." "Stop!" From Mr. He ploughed his way to the bank. Butt. and seized the captive by the arm. with a change in his voice.

A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm." "Threw you in!" "Yes. it has become world-famous. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. "Do you know. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes." as they say in the courts of law. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. before any one can realise what is happening. calling upon the headmaster. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. and all was over. _Plop_!" said Mr. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. Yes." said Wyatt. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. Butt fierce and revengeful. Butt. "Really. and the interested neighbours are following their example. and throws away the match. really!" said the headmaster. we find Mr. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. "Threw me in. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. Mr. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire.the first had been as nothing. sheets of fire are racing over the country. they did. Butt gave free rein to it. went to look for the thrower. The tomato hit Wyatt. but in the present case. and "with them. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. sir.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. sir. Wyatt. and. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. having prudently changed his clothes. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. Mr. with others. Butt. but both comparisons may stand. Police Constable Alfred Butt. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. sir. It was no occasion for light apologies. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. I shall--certainly----" . with a certain sad relish. Following the chain of events. The imagination of the force is proverbial.

" concluded Mr. sir. again with the confidential air. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. She says to me.' I says. according to discretion. Lots of them all gathered together. right from the beginning. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir!" said the policeman.' And. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_. 'a frakkus." "Yes--Thank you. and I thought I heard a disturbance.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir. beginning to suspect something. Mr. Butt promptly.' I says. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. sir. sir. Good-night. I says to myself. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot." "Yes." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. sir. Wringin' wet. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. sir." "Yes. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. He ." said Mr. "I _was_ wet. "Couple of 'undred." "H'm--Well. Had he been a motorist. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_. 'Wot's this all about. with the air of one confiding a secret. As it was. I wonder?' I says. sir. sir! Mrs. Butt started it again. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. ''Allo." "Good-night. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. constable. They actually seized you.' And. and fighting. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. too." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. and I couldn't see not to say properly. I can hardly believe that it is possible. I will look into the matter at once. "I was on my beat." he added." "I have never heard of such a thing. They shall be punished. Butt. sir. 'Why. "How many boys were there?" he asked. sir. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying.

It could not understand it. They were not malicious. which at one time had looked like being fatal. and not of only one or two individuals. as a whole. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. but for one malcontent. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. and in private at that. The pond affair had. which was followed throughout the kingdom. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. "There'll be a frightful row about it. and finally become a mere vague memory. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. It happened that. When condensed. expend itself in words. It was one vast. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. As it was. always ready to stop work. The blow had fallen. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life. he got the impression that the school. about a week before the pond episode. Only two days before the O. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. however. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. There is every probability--in fact.W. . I say!" Everybody was saying it. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused... or nearly always. it is certain--that. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. It must always. And here they were. astounded "Here." they had said. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. The school was thunderstruck. right in it after all. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. and the school. become public property. he would have asked for their names.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. though not always in those words. A public school has no Hyde Park. of course. was culpable.. blank.

and. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. I'm not going to. on the whole. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. their ironbound conservatism.The malcontent was Wyatt. even though he may not approve of it. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. "Well. a daring sort of person. Before he came to Wyatt. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school." Neville-Smith stopped and stared." "Why not?" said Wyatt. that it was all rot. He said it was a swindle. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. as a whole. and he was full of it. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. He added that something ought to be done about it. Wyatt was unmoved." . and that it was a beastly shame. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school. and scenting sarcasm. Leaders of men are rare. and probably considered himself." "You're rotting. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian." "All right. a day-boy. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. It requires genius to sway a school. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. intense respect for order and authority." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons.

Wyatt whistling." "I say." said Wyatt. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. Groups kept forming in corners apart. "It would be a bit of a rag. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. nor could they! I say!" They walked on." "You'll get sacked. and let you know. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. ragging barred." "That would be a start. They couldn't sack the whole school. Are you just going to cut off. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. "I say." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone. I should be glad of a little company. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea." "By Jove." Another pause." "Not bad." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. they couldn't do much. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. If the whole school took Friday off. I believe. excited way." "I suppose so. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. but. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. I say." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless." "I could get quite a lot. what a score. "Do." said Neville-Smith after a pause." "All right. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith."No.

I should have got up an hour later." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. The majority of these lived in the town. to Brown. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. it's just striking. the only other occupant of the form-room.'s day row. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. "It's jolly rum. "I say. came on bicycles. though unable to interfere. were empty. saying it was on again all right." "So should I. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day." "So do I." said Brown. what a swindle if he did. whose homes were farther away. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. and walked to school. trying to get in in time to answer their names. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. however. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters." ." "Somebody would have turned up by now. rather to the scandal of the authorities. who. of the Lower Fifth. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. The form-rooms. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. A few. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about.W. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms." said Willoughby. I can't make it out. like the gravel. as a general rule. Some one might have let us know. I say. but it had its leaven of day-boys. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. and at three minutes to nine. Why. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning.

Perhaps. after all. Several voices hailed Mr. Not a single one. there is a holiday to-day. Spence. as you say." he said. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. Spence as he entered. Spence told himself. sir. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Brown. He walked briskly into the room. "Willoughby. "Well." "Yes. And they were all very puzzled. we don't know. as he walked to the Common Room." Mr."Hullo." "We were just wondering." "None of the boarders?" "No. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. He was not a house-master. sir. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned. Spence. and looked puzzled. if the holiday had been put on again. sir." "I've heard nothing about it. The usual lot who come on bikes. Spence pondered." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. sir." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. Spence seated himself on the table. sir. as was his habit." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. here _is_ somebody. We were just wondering. A brisk conversation was going on." "This is extraordinary. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. he stopped in his stride. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room." Mr. sir. and the notice was not brought to me. Spence?" Mr. . Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. Seeing the obvious void. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. and a few more were standing. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. "Hullo. sir. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. Mr.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. please. "Anything I can do for you. as generalissimo of the expedition. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. He always told that as his best story. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. and apples. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. and as evening began to fall. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. with comments and elaborations. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. * * * * * At the school." said Wyatt.his paper. It was not a market-day. As the army drew near to the school. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. "Yes. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. it melted away little by little. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. singing the school song. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. fortunately. And two days later. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. In the early afternoon they rested. At Worfield the expedition lunched. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic." the leading inn of the town. the march home was started. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. They looked weary but cheerful. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. each house claiming its representatives. jam. net practice was just coming to an end when. Other inns were called upon for help. And the army lunched sumptuously. Wyatt. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. Private citizens rallied round with bread. faintly. . Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. At the school gates only a handful were left. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. and he always ended with the words. In addition. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty.

To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. The school streamed downstairs." Wyatt was damping. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. But it came all . "I say." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance." He then gave the nod of dismissal. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. they didn't send in the bill right away. It hasn't started yet. thought the school. were openly exulting. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. met Wyatt at the gate.Bob Jackson. "Hullo. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. I thought he would. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. isn't it! He's funked it. Now for it. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. This was the announcement. indeed. "My dear chap. "this is all right. Finds the job too big to tackle. speechless. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice." he chuckled. marvelling. The less astute of the picnickers. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. and gazed at him. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. There was. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features." he said." said Wyatt. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. walking back to Donaldson's.

You wait. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. I'm glad you got off." "Thanks. They surged round it." Wyatt was right. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. It was a comprehensive document." "Glad you think it funny. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. as they went back to the house." "Sting?" "Should think it did. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates." said Mike. Only the bigger fellows. then?" "Rather. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred." he said. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. It left out little. Rather a good thing. He lowers all records. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one. and post them outside the school shop. "he is an old sportsman. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked.right. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. The headmaster had acted." "Do you think he's going to do something. as he read the huge scroll. "What!" "Yes. He was quite fresh. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. "I don't know what you call getting off." said Mike ruefully. "By Gad. I never saw such a man. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." said Clowes. I notice. Buns were forgotten. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. "None of the kids are in it. who was walking a little stiffly. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." it began. To-day. I was one of the first to get it. the school sergeant." Wyatt roared with laughter." .

Fielding especially. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. "Or. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me." "I say. incidentally. Probably Druce. match." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. Any more? No. rather. "I'm not rotting. if his fielding was something extra special. one of the places. Still." said Mike." * * * * * Billy Burgess." continued Wyatt. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. I thought you weren't.C. Don't break down. do you?" said Mike awkwardly. He had his day-dreams. you're better off than I am." said Mike indignantly. Ashe. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M." "You don't think there's any chance of it. was a genial giant. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. like everybody else." "An extra's nothing much. I should think they'd give you a chance. So you field like a demon this afternoon." "Well. so you're all right. captain of Wrykyn cricket. if it were me. overcome. Let's see. "it's awfully decent of you. by Jove! I forgot." said Wyatt seriously. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No." "Oh. whatever his batting was like. I don't blame him either. especially as he's a bowler himself. That's next Wednesday. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. You'll probably get my place in the team." "You needn't rot. The present was one of the rare .C." said Mike. buck up. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. Adams. what rot!" "It is. really. Me." "I say."Well." "I should be awfully sick." said Mike uncomfortably. it isn't you. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot." "I'm not breaking down. Anyhow. making a century in record time). But there'll be several vacancies. rather. that's the lot. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. Wyatt. "All right.

Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when ." "You haven't got a mind. And I'd jump on the sack first.C." grumbled Burgess. I was on the spot. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. as Wyatt appeared. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all. He's as tall as I am." "Rot. "I'm awfully sorry. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. I will say that for him. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked.C. Besides. That kid's good. shortly before lock-up." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal." "I suppose he is. For a hundred and three.C. Bill." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully. like the soldier in Shakespeare. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. jumping at his opportunity.. "Eight." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. "The fact is." said Wyatt.. and a better field. in the excitement of the moment the M. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No. and drop you into the river.C. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. and let's be friends. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute." "Why don't you play him against the M. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. full of strange oaths. match went clean out of my mind. There it is in the corner. "He's as good a bat as his brother." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. give me a kiss. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt." "Right ho!. I've dropped my stud. Then he returned to the attack. he isn't small.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. Dash. "Come on. That's your trouble. Wyatt found him in his study." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it.

B. chaps who play forward at everything. Jackson. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent.C. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for." Wyatt stopped for breath. That kid's a genius at cricket. "Just give him a trial. wouldn't you? Very well. He read it. Everything seems hushed and expectant. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. poor kids. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. "You know. "Think it over." said Wyatt. just above the W. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock." "Good. bottom but one." Wyatt got up. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. gassing to your grandchildren. at Lord's. and you rave about top men in the second. how you 'discovered' M." Burgess hesitated. I shall be locked out. CHAPTER XIII THE M.C. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. "You rotter. "I'll think it over." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. For. Wyatt. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. there is a curious. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. Frightful gift of the gab you've got.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. even Joe.C." he said. So long. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. Give him a shot." said Wyatt. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves." "You play him. Burgess. better . Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England." he said. His own name.C. "All right. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion." said Burgess. The bell went ages ago. then. and his heart missed a beat. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. it's a bit risky.

I'm hanged! Young marvel. isn't he. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily." said Saunders. as Saunders had done. you know. Only wants the strength. Hullo. "By Jove. to wait. "Got all the strokes. and stopped dead. you'll make a hundred to-day. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home.C." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. sir. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. and I got one of the places. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy." "Of course. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. team came down the steps. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. saw him. Mike walked across from Wain's. "Why. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. where he had changed." said Saunders. Master Mike. Three chaps are in extra. He could almost have cried with pure fright. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . and quite suddenly.C. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes.after lunch. He stopped short. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. sir." he said. so that they could walk over together. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. Saunders!" cried Mike. "Isn't it ripping." "Well. Master Joe. "Didn't I always say it. Master Mike. hopeless feeling left Mike." he chuckled. here he is. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. I'm only playing as a sub. the lost." "Well. I always said it. feeling quite hollow. Saunders?" "He is. "Why." Joe took Mike by the shoulder.. and then they'll have to put you in. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. when the strangeness has worn off.

and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. just when things seemed most hopeless. For himself. "Aged ten last birthday.C. At twenty." "This is our star.C. and was l. as usual. You are only ten. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. The beginning of the game was quiet. team. Joe began to open his shoulders. and the pair gradually settled down. The M. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. On the other hand. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. Saunders is our only bowler. tried to late-cut a rising ball. The Authentic. and hoping that nothing would come his way.w. missed it. . but he contrived to chop it away. for Joe. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. aren't you. but Bob fumbled it." said the other with dignity. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. It was the easiest of slip-catches. getting in front of his wicket. not to mention the other first-class men.C. who grinned bashfully. "What do you think of this?" said Joe." "I _have_ won the toss. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump.b. You wait till he gets at us to-day.C. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. sorry as a captain. exhibiting Mike. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. conscious of being an uncertain field. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap.M. As a captain. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. And. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. was feeling just the same. It was a moment too painful for words. but he is. Bob. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. relief came. "I never saw such a family. and playing for the school. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. almost held it a second time. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. dropped it. Burgess was glad as a private individual. still taking risks. The wicket was hard and true. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper.

It was a quarter to four when the innings began. A comfortable. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. the hundred and fifty at half-past. Joe was still in at one end." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn .The school revived." said Burgess. to make the runs. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. things settled down. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. there was scarcely time. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. Unfortunately. I wish I was in. total over the three hundred. "Lobs. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. Some years before. Two hundred went up. a little on the slow side. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs.C. the school first pair. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. was stumped half-way through the third. invincible. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. but wickets fell at intervals. Four after four.C. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Both batsmen were completely at home. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. and was stumped next ball. After this. against Ripton. was optimistic. Morris. Then came lunch.C. as usual. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. third-change bowlers had been put on. but exceedingly hard to shift. hit two boundaries." he said to Berridge and Marsh. A hundred an hour is quick work. Then Joe reached his century. however. all round the wicket. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. Berridge. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. the end was very near. "By Jove. coming in last. and was then caught by Mike. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. "Better have a go for them. and the M. His second hit had just lifted the M. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. Saunders. was a thoroughly sound bat. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. on the present occasion. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. Following out this courageous advice. Runs came with fair regularity. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. and two hundred and fifty.C. the first-wicket man. Burgess. The hundred went up at five o'clock.

What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work.. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. because they had earned it. Saunders. Morris was still in at one end. and hit the wicket. At the wickets. The first over yielded six runs. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. all through gentle taps along the ground. He knew his teeth were chattering. but they were distinctly envious. Stick in. Mike drew courage from his attitude. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed." he added to Mike. Lobs are the most dangerous. as usual. "That's all you've got to do. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. fumbling at a glove. by a series of disasters. The long stand was followed. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. For a time things went well. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. three of them victims to the lobs. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. And that was the end of Marsh. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. Bob. as if he hated to have to do these things. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. "and it's ten past six. He wished he could stop them. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. seemed to give Morris no trouble. "Two hundred and twenty-nine." said Burgess. Bob Jackson went in next. He had refused to be tempted. At last he arrived. and Mike.. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. He was jogging on steadily to his century. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. . Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Twenty runs were added." All!. and Morris. In the second. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. insinuating things in the world. As a matter of fact. tottered out into the sunshine. It was his turn next. and a thin. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. It was the same story to-day. No good trying for the runs now. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. he felt better. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. five wickets were down. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. The bowler smiled sadly. and get the thing over.

and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. Even the departure of Morris. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg." said a voice." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. Mike would have liked to have run two. "Don't be in a funk. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. Burgess continued to hit. sir. and invariably hit a boundary. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. The next moment the dreams had come true. "Play straight. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. Saunders was a conscientious man. he failed signally. "To leg. the school was shouting. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. Burgess came in. He felt equal to the situation. Half-past six chimed. and you can't get out. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Now. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. and Saunders. sometimes a cut." said the umpire. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home.. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. and. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. The bowling became a shade loose. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl.. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. . All nervousness had left him. besides being conscientious. wryly but gratefully. did not disturb him. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. but always a boundary. skips and the jump. Saunders was beginning his run. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. It was a half-volley. If so. Sometimes a drive. doubtless. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. There was only Reeves to follow him. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. On the other hand. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. which he hit to the terrace bank. and bowled. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. but he himself must simply stay in." It was Joe. Mike grinned.. just the right distance away from the off-stump. The moment had come. moment Mike felt himself again.

C. He hit out. as has been pointed out. Mike played it back to the bowler. just failed to reach it. Unfortunately for him. this may not seem an excessive reward. and we have our eye on you." But Burgess. and missed the wicket by an inch.C. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint." Then came the second colours. * * * * * So Wilkins. jumping." said Burgess. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. of the School House. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. to Burgess after the match. the visiting team. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. against the Gentlemen of the County. Joe.The lob bowler had taken himself off. Down on it again in the old familiar way. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. dropped down into the second. and mid-off. Mike let it alone. Number two: yorker. First one was given one's third eleven cap. and Mike got his place in the next match. "I told you so. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. Five: another yorker. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. were not brilliant cricketers. so you may as well have the thing now. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. at any rate as far . at the last ball. who had played twice for the first eleven. They might mean anything from "Well. almost at a venture. naturally. All was well." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M." Mike was a certainty now for the second. "You are a promising man. It hummed over his head. You won't get any higher. "I'll give him another shot." said the wicket-keeper." said Wyatt. however gentlemanly. "I'm sorry about your nose. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. fast left-hand. Four: beat him." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. But it was all that he expected. That meant. "nothing. here you are. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. as many a good man had done before him. match. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. "He's not bad.

hit one in the direction of cover-point. making twenty-five. when the Gazeka. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. eh? Well. Morris making another placid century. as is not uncommon with the bowling was concerned. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. Run along. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. and Wain's were playing Appleby's.C. He was enjoying life amazingly. went in first. and. prancing down the pitch. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. with Raikes. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. For some ten minutes all was peace." he said. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. as the star. this score did not show up excessively. House matches had begun. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. of the third eleven. made a fuss. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. _verbatim_. and he and Wyatt went in first. having the most tender affection for his dignity. Then Wain's opened their innings. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. . and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. It happened in this way. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. match. The Gazeka. Bob. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. and Berridge. did better in this match. and was then caught at cover. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. The school won the toss. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. but Firby-Smith. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. to the detriment of Mike's character. who had the bowling. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. mind you don't go getting swelled head. was captain of the side." Mike departed. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. and Marsh all passing the half-century. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. "Come on. Ellerby. Raikes possessed few subtleties. bursting with fury. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. He had made seventeen. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. as head of the house. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. not out. he waxed fat and kicked. The following. Mike pounded it vigorously. and was thoroughly set. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. supported by some small change. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. To one who had been brought up on Saunders.C. See? That's all." he shouted. Mike went in first wicket. "Well.

" he said reprovingly." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. The world swam before Mike's eyes. And Mike. feeling now a little apprehensive. and lick him." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting." Burgess looked incredulous. chewing the insult. you grinning ape!" he cried. cover having thrown the ball in. "It isn't funny. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees.Mike. he was also sensitive on the subject. "Don't _laugh_. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. miss it. Burgess. Firby-Smith arrived. Burgess. "You know young Jackson in our house. At close of play he sought Burgess." he said. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. And only a prefects' meeting." he said. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. shouting "Run!" and. was also head of the school. "Easy run there. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. avoided him. "Rather a large order. "I want to speak to you. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner. you know. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. a man of simple speech. Firby-Smith did not grovel. thought Firby-Smith. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth." . These are solemn moments. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. a prefects' meeting. besides being captain of the eleven. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. "What's up?" said Burgess. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth.

." "Oh."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. On the other hand. well--Well. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's." said Firby-Smith. "Well. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. I'll think it over. look here. Burgess started to laugh. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. "Rather thick. anyhow." "He's frightfully conceited. Bob occurred to him. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. therefore. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. but he thought the thing over.C. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Bob was one of his best friends. but turned the laugh into a cough. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. In the second place. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion." And the matter was left temporarily at that. It was only fair that Bob should be told. were strong this year at batting. he's a decent kid. "Yes. Here was he." he said meditatively. In the first place. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Still. Besides. match. and let you know to-morrow. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission.C. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. with the air of one uttering an epigram. And here was another grievance against fate. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. and particularly the M. the results of the last few matches. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. I mean--A prefects' meeting. as the nearest of kin. It became necessary. Geddington. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team.

and Neville-Smith. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. sitting over here. "Hullo. He came to me frothing with rage. "Still----" "I know. the man. I say. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. "Busy. took his place. but he _is_ an ass." "Well. the captain. So out Bob had gone. but in fielding there was a great deal. "Still. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. one's bound to support him. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. Bob. It's rather hard to see what to do." suggested Burgess. I sympathise with the kid. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. can't you? This is me. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. "Personally. "Take a pew. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. I want to see you. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school." he said. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk." "It's awfully awkward. Mike was good. dark. "Silly young idiot. You know how to put a thing nicely." he added. you can. handsome chap. look here." . It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. "Sickening thing being run out. Bob was bad. The tall. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time." continued Burgess gloomily. thanks." "I suppose so.' Billy.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. you know. Bob?" he asked." said Bob. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study. Have some?" "No.

He wants kicking. too. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. go and ask him to drop the business. nothing--I mean. He gets right way. "I wanted to see you. You know." he said." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects."Awful rot." he said." said Bob. you're a pal of his. "Look here. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise." It was a difficult moment for Bob. though. is there? I mean." he said. "I thought you hadn't. You must play the the old Gazeka over. he became all animation. "I say. having to sit there and look on. Bob." emended the aggrieved party. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this. "You see it now. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. I'm a prefect. Seeing Bob." he said. you know." said Bob. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. I know. not much of a catch for me. I tell you what. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. "I didn't think of you. He had a great admiration for Bob. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. "Well. But he recovered himself. you know. "Burgess was telling me. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. apart from everything else. aren't you? Well. you're not a bad sort. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. would it be. "Yes?" "Oh. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. "I that sort. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. One cannot help one's thoughts. made him waver. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. I don't know. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. "Don't do that." . Look here.

After all. and owed him many grudges. and went to find Mike. he gave him to understand. Still. of Donaldson's. Curiously enough. though without success. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. most of all. really. you know. and unburdened his soul to him. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. and the offensively forgiving. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. Mike's all right. of course. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. so subdued was his fighting spirit. and Burton felt revengeful. I did run him out. he. there's that." "No. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton." and Bob waving them back. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention. But for Bob. . in the course of his address. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. fourteen years of age." said Bob." "Yes. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit." said Mike. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. he felt grateful to Bob. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest."Well. Reflection. All right then. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. "I'm specially glad for one reason. without interest. I think if I saw him and cursed him. it was frightful cheek." "What's that?" inquired Mike. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. He was not inclined to be critical. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. Firby-Smith. He was a punctured balloon." "Thanks. Mike. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance." "Thanks. "I say. And. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning." said Burton." "Of course it was.

It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. just before lock-up. He kicked Burton. that's bad luck. some taint. too. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. yes. CHAPTER XVI . telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. * * * * * Mike walked on. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. They were _all_ beasts. anyway. so that Burton. as it were." said Mike stolidly. retiring hurriedly." "Good-night. though." "Thanks. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. Burgess. for his left was in a sling. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. He tapped with his right hand. rather. and gradually made up his mind. He'd have been playing but for you." said Mike." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. He thought the thing over more fully during school. Not once or twice. in a day or two. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood." And Burgess. "Come in!" yelled the captain. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. I suppose?" "Oh. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule." "Hope so. Good-night. On the evening before the Geddington match.54 next morning. but several times. Be all right. and his decision remained unaltered. weighing this remark. Beastly bad luck. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door. We wanted your batting. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him." "I say.

and." "Why aren't you--Hullo. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. "It isn't anything. Somebody ought to look at it. It doesn't matter a bit. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. mainly in Afghanistan. I'll have a look later on. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space." "Hurt?" "Not much. But it's really nothing." "Never mind. I think I should like to see the place first. His telegram arrived during morning school. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. after an adventurous career. at the request of Mike's mother. Be all right by Monday. Still. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. Coming south. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. really." "I could manage about that. Only it's away. "School playing anybody to-day. Uncle John. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. There's a second match on. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. Now." "They're playing Geddington." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect. what shall we do. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. thanks. It's nothing much. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection." "Doctor seen it?" "No. and." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian." "H'm. . It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. He had thereupon left the service. I didn't see. Mike? I want to see a match.

if he does well against Geddington. "If he does well to-day. A sudden. "Chap in Donaldson's." "For the first? For the school! My word. but he choked the feeling down." Uncle John detected the envious note. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. Of course. and better do it as soon as possible. What bad luck. as Trevor. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. and done well. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. but I thought that was only as a substitute. They look as if they were getting set. they'll probably keep him in." he said enviously. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. There are only three vacancies. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. The thing was done." "Rather awkward. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. Mike. that. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. By Jove. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. and they passed on to the cricket field. He's in the School House. I've got plenty of time." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours." "Still." said Mike. I see." two or three times in an absent voice. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit.Got to be done. by George!" remarked Uncle John. But I wish I . It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. I should think. it's Bob's last year. I didn't know that. Very nice." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. I was playing for the first. It was a glorious day. "That's Trevor. Then there'll be only the last place left. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. it was this Saturday. Neville-Smith. "Ah yes. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. No wonder you're feeling badly treated.

" he began. and we'll put in there. The next piece of shade that you see. Let's have a look at the wrist." After they had watched the match for an hour." said Mike. He could hear nothing but his own breathing. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. sing out. "That hurt?" he asked. let me--Done it? Good." said Uncle John. Mike was crimson. "I hope you don't smoke." said Mike. Lunch. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. . recovered himself. as he pulled up-stream with strong." "Not bad that. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. "That willow's what you want. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. "The worst of a school. Uncle John looked up sharply." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. I badly want a pipe. unskilful stroke. Which reminds me. They got up." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "Ye--no. I wonder how Bob's got on." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage. The telegram read. Can you manage with one hand? Here." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. caught a crab. but his uncle had already removed the sling." "Pull your left." said Mike. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches." "Rotten trick for a boy. then gave it a little twist. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. "It's really nothing. and sighed contentedly. "Geddington 151 for four. When you get to my age you need it. "Put the rope over that stump. Mike?" "No.could get in this year. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. "Let's just call at the shop." stammered Mike.

) "Swear you won't tell him." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke." "I ought to be getting back soon."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. "I know. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. well. There was an exam. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. on. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. one may as well tell the truth.. "May as well tell me. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. It wasn't that. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact." When in doubt. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Mike told it. I think. I won't give you away. Lock-up's at half-past. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. I was nearly asleep. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat.. where his fate was even now being sealed. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. so I thought I might as well let him. let his mind wander to Geddington. It had struck him as neat and plausible. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again." .. would they give him his cap? Supposing. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. That's how it was." "I won't tell him." Uncle John was silent. and his uncle sat up. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. gaping. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. Look here. while Mike. "Jove. (This. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. dash it all then. really. Mike said nothing. swear you won't tell him.

. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. It was a longer message this time. Jackson 48). "Well?" said Uncle John. How's your wrist?" "Oh. "Bob made forty-eight. thanks." "There'll be another telegram. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. as they reached the school gates." he said. Uncle John felt in his pocket. Neville-Smith four). only they wouldn't let me. "It was simply baking at Geddington." He paused for a moment." said Mike. and rejoined his uncle." Mike worked his way back through the throng. "We won. eh? We are not observed. then. Don't fall overboard. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. Mike pushed his way through the crowd."Up with the anchor. It was the only possible reply. "By Jove. I should think. I wanted to go to sleep. I'm going to shove her off. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. Marsh 58. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. better. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. and they ragged the whole time." he added carelessly." Wyatt began to undress. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. I'm done. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets.

He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. Just lost them the match." "Why. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. He was very fond of Bob. He let their best man off twice in one over. with watercress round it." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Chap had a go at it. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. when he does give a couple of easy chances. Only one or two thirds. Soothed by these memories. I was in at the other end. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful."No. too. Their umpire. Bit of luck for Bob. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Ripping innings bar those two chances. can't remember who. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. A bit lucky. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. Bob puts them both on the floor. reviewing the match that night. off Billy. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. to-day. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. he felt. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. had come to much the same conclusion. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. Beastly man to bowl to. If he dwelt on it. as he lay awake in his cubicle." "Most captains would have done. though. and another chap. he fell asleep. Never saw a clearer case in my life. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. Jenkins and Clephane. No first. he would get insomnia. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind." Burgess." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. And.

" The conversation turned to less pressing topics. Try it. I'll practise like mad. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. "Look here. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second." "Well. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. This did not affect the bulk of the school.chance of reforming. As for Mike. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. he played for the second. * * * * * His opportunity came at last." Bob was all remorse." "That one yesterday was right into your hands." "All right then. but I mean. Bob. "It's those beastly slip catches. I shall miss it. found his self-confidence returning slowly. I can't time them. I'm certain the deep would be much better. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . accordingly. * * * * * In the next two matches. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. It's simply awful. I could get time to watch them there." "I know." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. drop by drop. and hoped for the day. I believe I should do better in the deep. Bob." "Do you know. as he stood regarding the game from afar. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. Bob figured on the boundary. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. About your fielding. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. I'm frightfully sorry. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. I hate the slips. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. I know that if a catch does come. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. Trevor'll hit me up catches. Both of them were. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. of Seymour's.

was called for. and at the bottom of the heap. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. Shoeblossom came away. sucked oranges. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. what was more important. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. Two days later Barry felt queer. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. entering the High Street furtively.Quiet Student. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. the school doctor. In brief. and returned to the school. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. however necessary such an action might seem to him. Shoeblossom. G. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. where he read _Punch_. He. Where were his drives now. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. too. and also. The next victim was Marsh. and thought of Life. the son of the house. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. Essentially a man of moods. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. He had occasional headaches. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. Upstairs. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. he was attending J. disappeared from Society. and. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. but people threw cushions at him. who was top of the school averages. and in the dingy back shop. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. Oakes. On the Tuesday afternoon. The professional advice of Dr. Marsh. peace. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. He made his way there. for chicken-pox. squealing louder than any two others. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. would be Shoeblossom. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. He tried the junior day-room. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . He tried out of doors. of the first eleven. at the same moment.

Sardines on sugar-biscuits. Got through a slice. and ate that. and after that the rout began. and I'm alone. for no apparent reason. His food ran out. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. Bob. they failed miserably. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. we got up and fed at about two in the morning.elect. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. I remember. and Mike kept his end up. The total was a hundred and seven. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. when Wain's won the footer cup. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. The weather may have had something to do with it. "Well. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. three years ago. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. going in fourth wicket. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. did anything to distinguish himself. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. I've got the taste in my mouth still. doubled this. batting when the wicket was easier. but nobody except Wyatt. They had only been beaten once. and was not out eleven. batting first on the drying wicket. Have to look after my digestion. too. Some schools do it in nearly every match. Too old now. for Neville-Smith. All sorts of luxuries. and the Incogniti. and the school. And I can square them. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. bar the servants. for rain fell early in the morning. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. made a dozen. But on this particular day. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year." . CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten.

He's bound to get in next year. "because it is." continued Bob. Bob. of course. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam. Beastly awkward. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Still." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being." "Oh. and sat down. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. yes. one wants the best man. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. Pity to spoil the record. Why? What about?" . Mike." Mike stared. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. making desultory conversation the while. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. he would just do it. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. though." "You get on much better in the deep." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school." "You were all right. When he had finished. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. I can't say more than that. We've all been at Wrykyn. of course."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. He got tea ready. passed him the bread. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when." "Bit better. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. being older. he poured Mike out a cup. was more at his ease. I don't know." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. "Not seen much of each other lately.

it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. I'll give you my opinion. just now. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. Spence said. but. now. So Mike edged out of the room. "Not at all. Bob. Well. and tore across to Wain's. on the other hand. They shook hands. . wiping the sweat off his forehead.'s like a sounding-board. 'Well. I fancy you've won. and now he had achieved it. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. "Thanks.'" "Oh. in the First room. and that's what he's there for."Well. "Well." said Mike. don't let's go to the other extreme. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. to shake his hand.. there'll be no comparison." Mike looked at the floor. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. I've a sort of idea our little race is over." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. awfully. I was in the pav. of course. What do you think. After all. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. 'I don't know what to do.' 'Yes. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. 'It's rough on Bob. I heard every word. Burgess. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. but don't feel bound to act on it. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. sir. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. and then sheered off myself. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. It's the fortune of war. There was nothing much to _be_ said. of course. They thought the place was empty. and in a year or two. what I wanted to see you about was this. 'Well. rot. 'Decidedly M.' said Spence. 'That's just what I think." It was the custom at Wrykyn.' said old Bill. I'm simply saying what I think. and so on. and I picked it up and started reading it. And so home. he's cricket-master." resumed Bob." muttered Mike. sir?' Spence said. sir. and said nothing. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. Congratulate you. He's a shade better than R. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. I'm jolly glad it's you. I couldn't help hearing what they said. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. I waited a bit to give them a good start. As it isn't me. The pav.' he said. It had been his one ambition. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. He was sorry for Bob.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. '_I_ think M. Billy said. Billy agreed with him. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life.

This was to the good. and this silent alarm proved effective. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels.30 to-morrow morning. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. and a little more. As he passed it. F. Still. he felt. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. he found that it was five minutes past six. as it always does. It wouldn't do. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. even on a summer morning. therefore. And Wyatt was at Bisley. The only possible confidant was Wyatt." "Oh. orders were orders. Until he returned. was not. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. He took his quarter of an hour." said Mike. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd.--W. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time.-S. Mike could tell nobody. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. a prospect that appealed to him. dash it. . The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. It would have to be done. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. Reaching out a hand for his watch.

about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. I want to know what it all means. But not a chap who. One simply lies there. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. It was time. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. Was this right. he asked himself. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. dash it all. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. But logic is of no use. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. by the way. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. "look here. he said to himself." he said. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. The painful interview took place after breakfast. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. and jolly quick. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. yes. in coming to his den. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. Here was he. Mike thought he would take another minute. looking at him. One would have felt. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. Who _was_ he. inconvenienced--in short. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. he felt. "Young Jackson. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. And outside in the cricket-field. would be bad enough. that Mike. and waited. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Didn't you see the notice?" . One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. Make the rest of the team fag about. and glared. being ordered about. Now he began to waver.

you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. Frightful swelled head. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass." said Mike. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. "Do--you--see. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. It was not according to his complicated. Just because you've got your second. as you please." "Oh. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. That's got nothing to do with it. you do. That's what you've got. See?" Mike said nothing. but he rather fancied not. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. "Yes." said Mike indignantly. The rather large grain of truth in what ." said the Gazeka shrilly. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. turn up or not. I've had my eye on you for some time. you went to sleep again. "Then you frightful kid. He mentioned this. You think the place belongs to you. you think you can do what you like. Happy thought: over-slept himself. just listen to me. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. The point is that you're one of the house team. Awfully embarrassing. and I've seen it coming on. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. "Six!" "Five past. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. did you? Well. young man. and I'm captain of it. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing." "I don't. You've got swelled head. this." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment.

" He left the dormitory. If it's a broken heart. and surveyed Mike. "What's your trouble?" he asked. Mike's jaw set more tightly. Zam-buk's what you want. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. but cheerful. and I suppose it always will be. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. for a beaker full of the warm south. as he had nearly done once before." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two." he said. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. What one really wants here is a row of stars. A-ah!" He put down the glass. full of the true. Wyatt was worn out. "That's the cats. "Oh. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. Always at it. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. Very heady. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. "Do you see?" he asked again. and stared at a photograph on the wall. I'll go down and look. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. He set his teeth. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. I didn't hit the bull every time. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. Wyatt came back. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. Well. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father." . I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. water will do. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. and his feelings were hurt. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. Failing that.

" "What! Why?" "Oh. "And why. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. "I say. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. my gentle che-ild. and say." "I mean. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong." said Mike morosely." "No. If he's captain. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator."He said I stuck on side. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. That's discipline. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. a word in your ear. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. you'll have a rotten time here. blood as you are at cricket. 'Talking of side. I defy any one to. The speaker then paused. Otherwise. and. Cheers from the audience. really. "Such body. He winked in a friendly way. putting down the jug." "In passing. I don't know.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. and." "Why?" "I don't know. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep." he said. You stick on side. but." "I like you jawing about discipline. There are some things you simply can't do. silent natures. drew a deep breath. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. that 'ere is. you stick it on. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . did he buttonhole you on your way to school. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. "Nothing like this old '87 water." "I didn't turn up." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. while I get dropped on if I break out. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. look here. 'Jackson.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. It's too early in the morning. you've got to obey him.

and St. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. and Wilborough formed a group. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. cheerful disregard of. or Wrykyn. Dulwich. But this did not happen often. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. before the Ripton match.saying--just so." Mike made no reply. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. Eton. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. would go down before Wilborough. the other you mustn't ever break. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. Tonbridge. His feelings were curiously mixed. In this way. or. rather. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. "me. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. as far as games are concerned. for the first time in his life. . if possible. most forms of law and order. I thank you. Wrykyn. Ripton. young Jackson. but it generally did." he concluded modestly. About my breaking out. I don't know why. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. Paul's are a third. Harrow. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. but it isn't done. having beaten Ripton. He would have perished rather than admit it. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. There was no actual championship competition. That night. If Wyatt. really meant. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. Until you learn that. That was the match with Ripton. When you're a white-haired old man like me. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. of which so much is talked and written. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. Haileybury. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. Geddington. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. but each played each.

The report was more than favourable. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton." said Burgess. as the poet has it. Spence. As it was.Burgess. One gave him no trouble. and he hated to have to do it. From small causes great events do spring. the sorrier he was for him. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. . there was a week before the match. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. but he was steady. In case of accident. and he had done well in the earlier matches. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. There were two vacancies. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. The more he thought of it. and held it. With him at short slip. he postponed the thing. "Well held. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. It was a difficult catch. If he could have pleased himself. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. Spence had voted for Mike. he would have kept Bob In. and biz is biz. He could write it after tea. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. After all. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. He had fairly earned his place. "Pleasure is pleasure. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. accordingly." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. And. feeling that life was good. and Mr. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. But. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. engrossed in his book. Bob got to it with one hand. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. * * * * * When school was over. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. and sprint. Finally he had consulted Mr.

" "Good. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. What hard luck it was! There was he." said Bob. Burgess passed on. "I couldn't get both hands to it. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. Firby-Smith. and became the cricket captain again. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. There are many kinds of walk. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land." he explained. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. "You're hot stuff in the deep. but one has one's personal ambitions." "Easy when you're only practising. towards the end of the evening. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. "What's up?" inquired Burgess. on being told of Mike's slackness. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence." "I've just been to the Infirmary." said Bob awkwardly."Hullo." "Oh." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. of course. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. but it's all right. did not enter his mind. He suppressed his personal feelings. and so he proceeded to tell . How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. in fact. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. That Burgess would feel. it may be mentioned. "This way for Iron Wills." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. as who should say. nothing. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him." There was. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again. and all the time the team was filled up." said the Gazeka. It was the cricket captain who. his mind full of Bob once more. He was glad for the sake of the school. It was decidedly a blow. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. He'll be able to play on Saturday. "Young Jackson. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. do you mean? Oh.

* * * * * When. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. As he stared. therefore. and passed on. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. He looked at the paper. Mike scarcely heard him." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. Bob stared after him. there had never been an R. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. Trevor came out of the block. than the one on that in detail. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. going out. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Bob had beaten him on the tape. Bob. "Hard luck!" said somebody. met Bob coming in. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. hurrying. "Congratulate you. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. "Congratulate you. as he was rather late. Bob. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list." he said. that looked less like an M. Since writing was invented. There was no possibility of mistake. For the initial before the name Jackson was R.

Here it is. Trevor moved on. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. Bob. "Thanks awfully. you'll have three years in the first. came down the steps. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. They moved slowly through the cloisters. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. "Congratulate you. and Burgess agree with him. You've got your first." said Mike. very long way off. "Jolly glad you've got it. There was a short silence. for next year. You're a cert. No reason why he shouldn't. delicately." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. "Anyhow." ." "Thanks. as the post was late." said Mike. feeling very ill. Bob snatched gladly at the subject."Seen what?" "Why the list." said Bob." The thing seemed incredible. I'm not. I showed you the last one. it's jolly rummy. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. It'll be something to do during Math. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. neither speaking." "No. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. Mike. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. Go and look. When one has missed one's colours. This was no place for him. next year seems a very. if you want to read it." "My--what? you're rotting. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears." "Well. with equal awkwardness. "Got a letter from mother this morning. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." he said awkwardly." "Hope so. "I believe there's a mistake. Just then. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. Not much in it.

" "Why not here?" "Come on. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. "Got that letter?" "Yes. He looked round. that. As they went out on the gravel. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. but followed." Mike resented the tone." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it." he said. there appeared on his face a worried." "After you. and went up to the headmaster. and Mike noticed. Mike heard the words "English Essay. A brief spell of agony. I'll give it you in the interval. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. with some surprise. and which in time disappears altogether. he stopped. The disappointment was still there. but it was lessened. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. He seemed to have something on his mind. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. as it were. Mike was. even an irritated look." said Mike amiably. Bob appeared curiously agitated. sitting up and taking nourishment. "What's up?" asked Mike. Haven't had time to look at it yet."Marjory wrote.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. I'll show it you outside. When they had left the crowd behind. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. seeing that the conversation was . somebody congratulated Bob again. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. it's for me all right." and. and. "Hullo. too." "No. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. These things are like kicks on the shin. "Read that. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. seeing Mike. for the first time in her life.

Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. Reggie made a duck.-"I hope you are quite well. and display it to the best advantage. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. capped the headmaster and walked off. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. He read it during school. She was a breezy correspondent. and ceased to wonder. I am quite well.--This has been a frightful fag to write. Have you got your first? If you have. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. Phyllis has a cold. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. lead up to it. He put the missive in his pocket. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him.apparently going to be one of some length. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. She was jolly sick about it. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent.S.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. Bob had had cause to look worried. but usually she entertained rather than upset people." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document.P. "P. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. I told her it served her right. and it's _the_ match of the season.S. with a style of her own. under the desk. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. Why don't you do that? "M. it . and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all." There followed a P. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. Well. it will be all through Mike. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell.

No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes." he said at last. The team was filled up.. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. They met at the nets. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. So it came out. "Well?" said Bob. "Of course. I suppose I am. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way." "Well. "I know I ought to be grateful." he broke off hotly. but she had put her foot right in it. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. and Burgess was not likely to alter it." "I didn't think you'd ever know. "How do you mean?" said Mike. He came down when you were away at Geddington. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. is it all rot.. "I mean. he might at least have whispered them. You know. it was beastly awkward." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. I don't know.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. that's how it was.. Bob couldn't do much. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh." . and would insist on having a look at my arm. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. Marjory meant well." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. I couldn't choke him off. Besides. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. "Did you read it?" "Yes. If he was going to let out things like that." said Mike. "I did. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. Still. and all that.

This is Philosophy. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. he altered his plans. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. "Besides. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. admitting himself beaten. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair. ." added Mike." said Bob to himself." He sidled off. When affairs get into a real tangle." "What about it?" "Well. The sensible man realises this. and had a not unpleasant time."I don't remember. "Well. and it grew so rapidly that. who sat down on an acorn one day. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will." Mike said." Which he did. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. "I shall get in next year all right. and happened to doze." he said. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny. when he awoke." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. "I must see Burgess about it." "I'm hanged if it is. sixty feet from the ground. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. I decide to remain here. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. Or. if one does not do that. Others try to grapple with them. "Anyhow." "Oh. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. anyhow. well. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. He thought he would go home. but. simply to think no more about them. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. Half a second. but it never does any good. it's all over now. He looked helplessly at Mike. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. and slides out of such situations. "Well. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. finding this impossible.

Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. And Burgess.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. Imitate this man. at the moment. in council. "But I must do something. but why should you do anything? You're all right. I could easily fake up some excuse. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. in it. It would not be in the picture. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. of course." Bob agreed. Besides. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. Bob should have done so. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. now it's up. though. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. confessed to the same to solve the problem. I don't know if it's occurred to you." . seeing that the point is. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head." "I do." said Bob. might find some way of making things right for everybody. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. and here you _are_. have to be carried through stealthily. You simply keep on saying you're all right. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. Tell you what. if they are to be done at school. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. These things. "Still. what you say doesn't help us out much. "I suppose you can't very well. if possible. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. consulted on the point. Though. and took the line of least resistance. It's not your fault. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. At which period he remarked a rum business. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. like the man in the oak-tree. Very sporting of your brother and all that. after Mike's fashion. It's me.

"I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. but supposing you had. whatever happens."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. If you really want to know. You sweated away. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. as the Greek exercise books say." "Mind the step. he did tell me. expansive grin. thanks for reminding me. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. A bad field's bad enough. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board.. I've got my first. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets." "I'll tell you what you look like. At any rate. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. that's why you've got your first instead of him. Not that you did." "Oh. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say." "Well. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. all right. He's a young slacker." "He isn't so keen. So long. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. As the distance between them lessened. if that's any good to you." said Neville-Smith. but a slack field wants skinning. with a brilliant display of front teeth. and then the top of your head'll come off. so out he went. I feel like--I don't know what." said Bob. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his." "Anyhow. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge. if you don't look out." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." "What do you mean?" "Fielding." "I don't care. So you see how it is. "Thanks. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. Wyatt." said Burgess. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours.

" "The race is degenerating. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven. I get on very well. Still. They all funked it. I'm going to get the things now. You can roll up. if I did." "Yes. eleven'll do me all right. It's just above the porch. It'll be the only one lighted up. All the servants'll have gone to bed." "The school is going to the dogs. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. and I'll come down. nor iron bars a cage. for goodness sake. I expect." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. can't you?" " have at home in honour of my getting my first. if you like. which I have--well." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. Still. After all. We shall have rather a rag. Heave a pebble at it." "So will the glass--with a run. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough." As Wyatt was turning away." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. And Beverley.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. for one. Clephane is." "But one or two day-boys are coming. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. I needn't throw a brick. Make it a bit earlier." "Good man." "You _will_ turn up. You'll see the window of my room. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep." "No. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. I shall manage it. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. a sudden compunction seized upon . anyhow it's to-night. Anything for a free feed in these hard times." "They ought to allow you a latch-key." "Said it wasn't good enough. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row.

though. I've got to climb two garden walls. we must make the best of things. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. Still. Ginger-beer will flow like water. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. I don't know if he keeps a dog. No expense has been spared. If so. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. "but this is the maddest. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR." "Don't go getting caught." "I shall do my little best not to be. Rather tricky work. All you have to do is to open the window and step out.Neville-Smith. getting back. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. and the wall by the . but he did not state his view of the case. "I say. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night." said Wyatt." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. I've used all mine. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. merriest day of all the glad New Year. you don't think it's too risky. "Don't you worry about me. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. They've no thought for people's convenience here. APPLEBY "You may not know it. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. "What's up?" he asked." "Oh. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. that's all right. He called him back. do you? I mean. you always are breaking out at night. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence.

and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window.potting-shed was a feline club-house. sniffing as he walked. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. There he paused. and get a decent show for one's money in . but the room had got hot and stuffy. It was a glorious July night. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. He was in plenty of time. and let himself out of the back door. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. it is true. the master who had the house next to Mr. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. Wain's. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. "What a night!" he said to himself. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. At present there remained much to be done. He was fond of his garden. which had suffered on the two walls. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. This was the route which he took to-night. for instance. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. and it was a long way round to the main entrance. They were all dark. There was a full moon. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. Appleby. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. true. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. Then he decided on the latter. ran lightly across it. dusted his trousers. whatever you did to it. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. Appleby. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. he climbed another wall. Crossing this. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. Why not. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. Much better have flowers. From here he could see the long garden. and was in the lane within a minute. The window of his study was open. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good.

It was not an easy question. Appleby had left his chair. Breaking out at night. liked and respected by boys and masters. and rose to his feet. close his eyes or look the other way. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. it was not serious. bade him forget the episode. he would have done so. Appleby that first awoke to action. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. Appleby. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. He always played the game. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. without blame. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. was a different thing altogether. examining. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. however. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. wondering how he should act. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. The surprise. with the aid of the moonlight. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. the extent of the damage done. and remember that he is in a position of trust. He receives a salary for doing this duty. and. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. He went his way openly. he had recognised him. to the parents. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. It was on another plane. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. Mr. With a sigh of relief Mr. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. but he may use his discretion. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. treat it as if it had never happened. He knew that there were times when a master might. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. . In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. on hands and knees. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. Sentiment. He paused.summer at any rate. As far as he could see. and indirectly. As he dropped into the lane. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. through the headmaster. of course. Appleby.

shall I? No need to unlock the door. The blind shot up. Exceedingly so. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows." said Mr. Appleby came over his relighted pipe." began Mr. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. I'm afraid. I'll climb in through here. and squeezed through into the room. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. He turned down his lamp. and walked round to Wain's." Mr. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. The thing still rankled." And. greatly to Mr. if you don't mind. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. only it's something important. Wain?" he said. in the middle of which stood Mr. Mr. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. About Wyatt. . Appleby. Wain. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. "I'll smoke. Appleby. He could not let the matter rest where it was. "Can I have a word with you. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. like a sea-beast among rocks. but they would have to wait. Wain." "Sorry. He tapped on the window. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. Mr." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. Mr. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border.

"James! In your garden! Impossible. You are quite right. and have it out with him. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." "So was I. sit down." "There is certainly something in what you say. this is most extraordinary. It isn't like an ordinary case. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Appleby. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. Exceedingly so. He had taken the only possible course. Appleby. Tackle the boy when he comes in. Appleby offered no suggestion. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. and. a little nettled." Mr. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. I am astonished. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all." "Bars can be removed." "Good-night. Why. Good-night. Wain on reflection. "Let's leave it at that. If you come to think of it." "No. He would have no choice. Sorry to have disturbed you. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents." "Possibly. then. You are not going?" "Must." "I don't see why. You can deal with the thing directly." said Mr. "I ought to report it to the headmaster." "You astound me. "What shall I do?" Mr." said Mr. Appleby. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. That is a very good idea of yours." "You must have been mistaken. That is certainly the course I should pursue. "A good deal. You're the parent." Mr. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. Dear me. It's like daylight out of doors. Appleby. Yes. He was wondering what would happen. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory." "I will. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." "He's not there now. He hoped ." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred.

merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste.. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. He blew the candle out. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. so much as an exasperated. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. it was true. therefore. It was not all roses. Mike was there. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. Wyatt he had regarded.. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. he would hardly have returned yet. he turned the door-handle softly and went in.. The moon shone in through the empty space. he felt. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. He took a candle. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. Appleby had been right. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. If further proof had been needed. pondering over the news he had heard. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes.. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. Mr. broken by various small encounters. It was not. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. and then consider the episode closed. He liked Wyatt. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. as a complete nuisance. But the other bed was empty. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. If he had gone out. This breaking-out. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. He had been working hard. was the last straw. Mr. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. if he were to be expelled.. least of all in those many years younger than himself. and the night was warm. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. a sorrowful. by silent but mutual agreement. and waited there in the semi-darkness. The light of the candle fell on both beds. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. he reflected wrathfully. asleep. and walked quietly upstairs. He grunted. thinking. one of the bars was missing from the window. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. the life of an assistant master at a public school.. and nothing else. Lately.they would not. . Mr. It would be a thousand pities.

He would write to the bank before he went to bed. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Wyatt dusted his knees. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. . Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. Jackson. and rubbed his hands together. "Hullo!" said Mike. asking them to receive his step-son at once. There was literally no way out. He lay down again without a word. and the letter should go by the first post next day. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Mike saw him start. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. Wyatt should not be expelled. "Go to sleep. Then he seemed to recover himself. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. The time had come to put an end to it. Wain relit his candle. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. is that you. Wain. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. father!" he said pleasantly. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed." snapped the house-master. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. "James!" said Mr. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. His voice sounded ominously hollow. as the house-master shifted his position. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. but could hear nothing. At that moment Mr. Mr. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. "Hullo. immediately. But he should leave. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. and that immediately.

Suppose I'd better go down. speaking with difficulty. Then Mr. my little Hyacinth. Wyatt!" said Mike. do you think?" "Ah." "I got a bit of a start myself. rolling with laughter. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. lying in bed. Mike began to get alarmed. it seemed a long silence. "It's all right. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. "But." said Wyatt. Exceedingly astonished." said Wyatt. I suppose. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly." He left the room. "You have been out. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. I say. "Yes. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. He flung himself down on his bed. it's awful.' We . As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. sir.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. "I am astonished. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. "That reminds me." "Yes. Speaking at a venture." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. "I say." said Wyatt at last. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. holding his breath. Follow me there. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours. I say. About an hour. Wain spoke. what!" "But. really. "I shall talk to you in my study. To Mike. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. The swift and sudden boot. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. sir. Me sweating to get in quietly. I shall be sorry to part with you." "What'll he do. now.

Wain jumped nervously.shall meet at Philippi. "Only my slipper. sir. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. James." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . This is my Moscow." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. then. Mr." Mr." "What?" "Yes. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. sir. "Well." he said." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes." "Not likely." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. Wain took up a pen." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. Well. Wyatt sat down." "And. Don't go to sleep. sir. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. "It slipped. 'tis well! Lead on. That'll be me. Where are me slippers? Ha. minions. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. "Sit down. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. "Exceedingly. choking sob. and began to tap the table. may I inquire. "Well?" "I haven't one." * * * * * In the study Mr. I follow. I suppose I'd better go down. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. James?" Wyatt said nothing." "What were you doing out of your dormitory. out of the house. sir." explained Wyatt.

At once. "I am sorry. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. even were I disposed to do so. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." Wyatt nodded. "I wish you wouldn't do that. It is not fitting. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker." Mr. watching it. . It's sending me to sleep. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. father. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. exceedingly. to see this attitude in you. It is impossible for me to overlook it.motor-car. but this is a far more serious matter." said Wyatt laconically. Only it _was_ sending me off. Wyatt. Exceedingly so." "I need hardly say." said Wyatt. James. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. I mean. Do you understand? That is all. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. "It is expulsion. ignoring the interruption. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. In a minute or two he would be asleep. Tap like that. sir." "You will leave directly I receive his letter." continued Mr. Wain. and resumed the thread of his discourse. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. You will not go to school to-morrow. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. "As you know." "Of course. Wain suspended tapping operations. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. approvingly. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry. James. You must leave the school.

father. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. and began to undress. as befitted a good cricket captain. he's got to leave." Mike was miserably silent. Mike. He isn't coming to school again. or some rot. Burgess came up. as an actual spectator of the drama. all amongst the ink and ledgers. "What happened?" "We chatted. here you are. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school." "What? When?" "He's left already. "Anybody seen young--oh." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. was in great request as an informant." he said. ."No. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly." said Wyatt cheerfully. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. "Oh. but it failed to comfort him. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. yes." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. "Buck up. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight." Burgess's first thought. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. Wain were public property. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr. was for his team. I shoot off almost immediately. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda.

He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. You know."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. Bob was the next to interview him. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. "What rot for him!" "Beastly." said Mike. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. however." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. withdrawn. you see. during the night. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. "All the same. As a matter of fact. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. "I say. without enthusiasm. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. Mike!" said Bob. They met in the cloisters. his pal. and he's taken him away from the school. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. "Hullo. that's the part he bars most. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so." "He'll find it rather a change." "All right. There was. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. Hope he does." agreed Mike. anyway. I expect. Look here. one exception to the general rule." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . though!" he added after a pause. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. last night after Neville-Smith's. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend." "I should like to say good-bye. Wyatt was his best friend. young Jackson. Not unless he comes to the dorm. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. You'll play on Saturday." continued Burgess. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this.

What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him." "Oh. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. "What's up?" asked Bob. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. with a forced and grisly calm. where Mike left him. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. I don't know. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. "I say. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. Bob. way.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news." said Mike. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. "Only that. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. They walked on without further Wain's gate. "If it hadn't been for me. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. That's all. Only our first." "Neville-Smith! Why. this wouldn't have happened. Jackson. "Nothing much. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. plunged in meditation. "It was absolutely my fault. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. as far as I can see. by the way. Well. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything." . He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room." he said at length. In extra on Saturday. "It was all my fault." said Burgess. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out.

" "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. he had a partner." "By Jove. who believed in taking no chances." "By Jove. his father had gone over there for a visit. He must be able to work it. too. If it comes off. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. Stronger than the one we drew with. "Very. three years ago." said Bob. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. to start with. as most other boys of his age would have been." "Oh.C. I know. made. "I say. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. or was being. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Like Mr. It's about Wyatt. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. and once. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. glad to be there again. that's to say. I may hold a catch for a change.C. Spenlow. well." Burgess grunted. He never chucked the show altogether. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. presumably on business. Bob went on his way to the nets. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented.C. did he?" Mike. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. "I wanted to see you. All these things seemed to show that Mr. Jolly hot team of M.C. from all accounts. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. So Mr. I should think. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. he'd jump at anything. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. They whacked the M. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Mike. Wain's dressing-room. He's a jolly good shot. I'll write to father to-night. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. And he can ride. the Argentine Republic. for lack of anything better to say. I've thought of something. . Mike was just putting on his pads. As a matter of fact." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank.

by a Beginner. sir. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. but to the point. Racquets?" "Yes." "H'm . but that. which had run as follows: "Mr. you won't get any more of it now. Sportsman?" "Yes. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit.. sir. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger." "Play football?" "Yes. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters. sir. sir. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match.." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. Jackson's letter was short. there was no reason why something should not be done for him." "H'm . and subsequently take in bundles to the . It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank..locked from the outside on retiring to rest. sir." After which a Mr." "Cricketer?" "Yes. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. These letters he would then stamp. He said that he hoped something could be managed." "Everything?" "Yes. Wyatt?" "Yes. sir. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager. In any case he would buy him a lunch." "H'm .... Wyatt's letter was longer. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. Mr. Well. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability.

because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. if it got the school out of a tight place. if I were you. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. "Or even Wyatt. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius." Mr. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. Spence. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. The Ripton match was a special event. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. I suppose. It was a day on which to win the toss. "Just what I was thinking. Still. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. Spence. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount.' which is a sort of start. Burgess. But it doesn't seem in my line. "I should cook the accounts. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. and go in first." said Burgess. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. inspecting the wicket with Mr. if the sun comes out. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. this. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. was not slow to recognise this fact. It had stopped late at night." said Mr. Even twenty. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. by J. Wyatt. Mind you make a century. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. There were twelve colours given three years ago. Burgess?" . A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be." wrote office. "I should win the toss to-day. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. Honours were heaped upon him. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. match." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. To do only averagely well. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. as a member of the staff.C. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. to be among the ruck. It would just suit him. At eleven-thirty. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. Burgess. sir.C. "Who will go on first with you. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M.' So long. would be as useless as not playing at all. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. when the match was timed to begin.

" said Burgess. You call. He was crocked when they came here. Ellerby." "I should. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. above all. "It's a nuisance too." "You'll put us in. This end." said Burgess. The other's yours." "I don't think a lot of that."Who do you think. It's a hobby of mine. I think. "Certainly. Looks as if it were going away. win the toss. I've lost the toss five times running. "We'll go in first. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. A boy called de Freece. He wasn't in the team last year. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. And. we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. I suppose?" "Yes--after us." said Maclaine." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. the Ripton captain. it might have been all right. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this." "Tails it is. I believe. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. He's a pretty useful chap all round. were old acquaintances. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. "but I think we'll toss. I don't know of him. They had been at the same private school. Mac." "Oh. and comes in instead. "One consolation is. of the Bosanquet type. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. so I was bound to win to-day." "Heads. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch." said Burgess ruefully. Plays racquets for them too. about our batting. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. though. well. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket." "Well." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. that's a ." "I must win the toss. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday." "I know the chap. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. On a dry. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six.

There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. as it generally does. Maclaine. he was compelled to tread cautiously. but the score. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. Twenty came in ten minutes. but which did not always break. Buck up and send some one in. run out. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. and was certain to get worse. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. but it means that wickets will fall. seventy-four for three wickets. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. and let's get at you. gave place to Grant. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. At sixty Ellerby. as he would want the field paved with it. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. They meant to force the game. The sun. Burgess. held it.comfort. The policy proved successful for a time. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. They plodded on. Dashing tactics were laid aside. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. The pitch had begun to play tricks. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. as it did on this occasion. So Ripton went in to hit. and Bob. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. Burgess began to look happier. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. Another hour of play remained before lunch. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. Then . The score mounted rapidly. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. which was now shining brightly." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. as also happened now. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors. The change worked.

and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. it was not a yorker. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. missed his second. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand.Ellerby. a semicircular stroke. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. The last man had just gone to the wickets. the slow bowler. He bowled a straight. for the last ten minutes. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. He had made twenty-eight. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. That period which is always so dangerous. the ten minutes before lunch. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. and de Freece. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. as they walked . when Ellerby. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. Just a ball or two to the last man. and his one hit. when the wicket is bad. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. A four and a three to de Freece. they resent it. Every run was invaluable now. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. And when he bowled a straight ball. when a quarter to two arrived. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. it was not straight. he explained to Mike. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. and it will be their turn to bat. who had gone on again instead of Grant. swiping at it with a bright smile. did what Burgess had failed to do. His record score. and with it the luncheon interval. So far it was anybody's game. medium-paced yorker. but he had also a very accurate eye. The other batsman played out the over. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. found his leg-stump knocked back. came off with distressing frequency.

But Berridge survived the ordeal.-w. "Morris is out. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. rather than confidence that their best. For goodness sake. You must look out for that. "Thought the thing was going to break." said Burgess blankly. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. "That chap'll have Berry. . emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand.-b. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. On a bad wicket--well. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. and make for the pavilion. would be anything record-breaking. when done. First ball. Berry." said Burgess helpfully. and not your legs. hard condition. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. The tragedy started with the very first ball. A grim determination to do their best. It would have been a gentle canter for them. Berry? He doesn't always break.-w. "L. He breaks like sin all over the shop. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. for this or any ground. Hullo. but it didn't. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven." "Hear that. Berridge. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. But ordinary standards would not apply here. He thought it was all right. stick a bat in the way. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion." he said. if he doesn't look out.-b. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. he the pavilion." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. Morris was the tenth case. "It's that googly man. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true.

"One for two. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational.This brought Marsh to the batting end. jumping out to drive. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over." said Ellerby." he said. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then." . Ellerby took off his pads. but this the next ball. He sent them down medium-pace. The voice of the scorer." Ellerby echoed the remark. Bob was the next man in. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. Last man duck. if we can only stay in. With the score Freece. he isn't. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. The cloud began to settle again. and took off his blazer. The last of the over had him in two minds. He got up. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. and the second tragedy occurred. Mike nodded. He started to play forward. and scoring a couple of twos off it. "The only thing is. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. He was in after Bob. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. but it was considerably better than one for two. "It's getting trickier every minute. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. stumped. Ten for two was not good. He had then.. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. he was smartly at thirty. The wicket'll get better. "This is all right. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. broke it. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. Mike was silent and thoughtful. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. Bob's out!. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice.. By George. we might have a chance. No. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride.

which was repeated. He was cool. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality." he said. and had nearly met the same fate. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. had fumbled the ball. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. The melancholy youth put up the figures. The wicket-keeper. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. as Ellerby had done. . the batsmen crossed. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. "That's the way I was had. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke." "All right." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. on the board. If only somebody would knock him off his length. Every little helps. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. Jackson. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." said Mike. Oh. "Forty-one for four. He came to where Mike was sitting. When he had gone out to bat against the M. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. 12. Mike. and try and knock that man de Freece off.C. as if it were some one else's." "Bob's broken his egg. "I'm going to shove you down one. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. A howl of delight went up from the school. Berridge was out by a yard. more by accident than by accurate timing. was not conscious of any particular nervousness." said Mike. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. I believe we might win yet. But now his feelings were different. when." said Ellerby. 5.C. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single.. 54. "Good man." said Ellerby. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. _fortissimo_. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed.. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. There was no sense of individuality. you silly ass.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. however." said Ellerby..

Bob played out the over with elaborate care. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. finer players. and not short enough to take liberties with. and hit it before it had time to break. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. But something seemed to whisper to him. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. The ball hit his right pad. considering his pace. Mike had faced half-left. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. Indeed. And Mike took after Joe.-w. but this time off the off-stump. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. He knew what to do now. and he had smothered them. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. apparently. The next ball was of the same length. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. as he settled himself to face the bowler. It has nothing. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. and whipped in quickly. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. . De Freece said nothing. They had been well pitched up. and stepped back. in school matches. that he was at the top of his batting form. Joe would be in his element. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. It pitched slightly to leg. Mike jumped out. He felt that he knew where he was now.Fitness. to do with actual health. a comfortable three. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day.-b. or very little. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. The umpire shook his head.

but he was uncertain. and made twenty-one. but he was full of that conviction. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. He had made twenty-six. for neither Ashe. "Sixty up. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. He had an excellent style. to a hundred. and de Freece's pet googly. Henfrey. mainly by singles. the score mounted to eighty." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. and so. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. For himself he had no fear now. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. he lifted over the other boundary. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. And. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. It was a long-hop on the off. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. At a hundred and four. nor Grant. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. (Two years later. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. thence to ninety. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours." said Ellerby. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. Mike could see him licking his lips. in the pavilion. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. Practically they had only one. But Mike did not get out. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. In the present case. He survived an over from de Freece. however. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic." said Berridge. ." "You ass. There was nervousness written all over him. "Don't say that.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. and the wicket was getting easier. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. he made a lot of runs. To-day he never looked like settling down. that this was his day. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. The last ball of the over. a half-volley to leg. was a promising rather than an effective bat. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. the next man in. Apparently. or he's certain to get out. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. He might possibly get out off his next ball. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. His departure upset the scheme of things.

Mike took them. and a school prefect to boot. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length. The last ball of the over he mishit. Could he go up to him and explain that he. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously.. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at.He was not kept long in suspense. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. . taken up a moment later all round the ground. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end." "All right. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. Another fraction of a second. it all but got through Mike's defence. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. "For goodness sake. Forty to win! A large order.. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. "Over. But the sixth was of a different kind. As it was. But each time luck was with him. Jackson. but this happened now." said the umpire." he whispered. and it was possible to take liberties. and he would have been run out. was well-meaning but erratic. But he did not score. he stopped it. The fast bowler. The next over was doubly sensational. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. but even so. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man.. "collar the bowling all you know. It rolled in the direction of third man. A distant clapping from the pavilion. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. I shall get outed first ball. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. and set his teeth. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. "Come on. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. But it was going to be done. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. or we're done. announced that he had reached his fifty. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty." shouted Grant. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs." said Mike. The wicket was almost true again now. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket.

Mike's knees trembled. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. Point and the slips crowded round. but determined. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. by the way?" "Eighty-three. It was young Jackson. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Brother of the other one. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. A great stillness was over all the ground. It was an awe-inspiring moment." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last." said Maclaine. and rolled back down the pitch. For four balls he baffled the attack. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. The school broke into one great howl of joy. Grant looked embarrassed. There were still seven runs between them and victory. Mike had got the bowling. and touched the off-stump. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. A bail fell silently to the ground." continued he. He bowled rippingly. The next moment the crisis was past. The fifth curled round his bat." "The funny part of it is.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. * * * * * "Good game. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. I say. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. and the bowling was not de Freece's." said Maclaine. rough luck on de Freece. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many.

who had duly secured the stakes. "Sorry I'm late." began Gladys Maud. Jackson) had resulted. Mike read on. "There's a letter from Wyatt. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep." said Phyllis. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. but was headed off. The hour being nine-fifteen. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. had settled down to serious work. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. Jackson." "I wish Mike would come and open it. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres. Mrs. The Jacksons were breakfasting. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk." said Mr." . conversationally. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. Jackson was reading letters. Mike's place was still empty. Mike. "He gives no details. bush-ray.It was a morning in the middle of September. referred to in a previous chapter. in a victory for Marjory." "With a bushranger. "Bushrangers." said Ella. "Bush-ray. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "Bush-ray." explained Gladys Maud. "Buck up. The rest. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt." added Phyllis. but expects to be fit again shortly." said Marjory. Mr. through the bread-and-milk. including Gladys Maud. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. bush-ray." she shouted. "Is there?" said Mike. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. He's been wounded in a duel." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "I've had a letter from MacPherson." He opened the letter and began to read. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. interested.

An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. Missed the first shot. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. Jackson. Here you are. Chester was unconscious. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. so he came to us and told us what had happened. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. We nipped on to a couple of horses.. "Anyhow. and I were dipping sheep close by.. "I told you it was a duel. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. and go through that way. so excuse bad writing." said Marjory. and missed him clean every time. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards." said Phyllis. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. so I shall have to stop. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. Well. So this rotter. He fired as we came up. an Old Wykehamist. Only potted him in the leg. I thought he was killed at first. After a bit we overtook him. which had fallen just by where I came down. I say. and loosed off. I picked it up. This is what he says. and coming back. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. and that's when the trouble began.. a good chap who can't help being ugly. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. pulled out our revolvers."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. A chap called Chester. Hurt like sin afterwards.. but it turned out it was only his leg. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. I got going then. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. summing up. and it was any money on the Gaucho.. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. That's the painful story. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price. It happened like this. proceeded to cut the fence. and dropped poor old Chester. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. which has crocked me for the time being.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. and so it was. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. "No. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. and tooled after him. it was practically a bushranger. instead of shifting off. and his day's work was done." said Mike. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. "Much better than being in a beastly bank.. Jackson. he wanted to ride through our place.

the meal was nearly over." said Marjory.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you." . It's the first I've had from Appleby. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. He looked up interested. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. as usual. that's a comfort. she would do it only as a favour. jumping up as he entered." she said. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. "Hullo. She was fond of her other brothers. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket." Mike seemed concerned. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. though for the others. Father didn't say anything. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam." she said. When he came down on this particular morning. while Marjory. taking his correspondence with him. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. Mrs." Marjory was bustling about. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. as she always did." "No. and did the thing thoroughly. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. but Mike was her favourite. But he was late. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. even for Joe. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Mr. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." said Mike philosophically. Jackson had disappeared. looked on in a detached sort of way. Mike. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. She had adopted him at an early age. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer." "He didn't mean it really. fetching and carrying for Mike. "Your report came this morning." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. Mike. Blake used to write when you were in his form. as Mr. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. "I say. "I'm a bit late.

C. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. He seems--" added Phyllis. Mr.C. Everybody says you are." "I wish I wasn't. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. "in a beastly wax. Master Mike." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. I wonder if he's out at the net now. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . appalled by the fear of losing his form. who treated his sons as companions." Mike's jaw fell slightly. "you'll make a century every match next term. He had always had the style. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. From time to time." Henfrey. It was early in the Easter holidays. minor match type. By the way. "Oh. and now he had the strength as well. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. indeed. Mike. but already he was beginning to find his form." was his muttered exclamation. At night sometimes he would lie awake. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. father wants you. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Let's go and see. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. was not returning next term. Phyllis met him. on the arrival of Mr." "Where?" "He's in the study. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. As he was walking towards the house. He liked the prospect. Why. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. "You _are_." "What for?" "I don't know."What ho!" interpolated Mike. He had filled out in three years. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. She was kept busy. was delighted. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. I've been hunting for you. Saunders. and Mike was to reign in his stead." he said. it's a beastly responsibility. however. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets.

Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. but on several occasions.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. very poor. "'His conduct." Mike. Inattentive and idle. Jackson in measured tones.previous term. therefore." said Mr. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. Jackson. skilled in omens. Jackson. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. It was on this occasion that Mr. not once.'" "We were doing Thucydides. Mike. Jackson was a man of his word." replied Mr. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. that Jackson entered the study.'" "It wasn't anything really. father?" said Mike. there had been something not unlike a typhoon." "'Mathematics bad." "'Latin poor. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. "Come in." said his father. he paused. scented a row in the offing." "Oh. "'French bad. There followed an awkward silence. Book Two. what is more. . kicking the waste-paper basket. both in and out of school. "I want you to listen to this report. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. "It is. It was with a certain amount of apprehension." "Here are Mr. is that my report. and Mr.'" quoted Mr. with a sort of sickly interest. "I want to speak to you. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had." "Oh. Greek. "your report.

Mike said nothing. He understood cricket. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence." he said blankly. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term." Mike's heart thumped. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. pure and simple. but it has one merit--boys work there. "I shall abide by what I said. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy." was his next remark. "It is not a large school. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. He knew it would be useless." Barlitt was the vicar's son. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. perhaps. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be.' There is more to the same effect. He did not approve of it. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. The tragedy had happened. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. birds were twittering. his father. or their Eight to Bisley. Jackson was sorry for Mike. but still blithely). spectacled youth who did not enter . but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. when he made up his mind. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. Mr. and there was an end of it. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope." Mr. Mr. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. and for that reason he said very little now. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. Jackson. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. and Mr. a silent."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. He understood him. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. Mike?" said Mr. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. Mike's point of view was plain to him." he said. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy.

Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. "So you're back from Moscow. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour." "Worse luck. Hi. It's waiting here." "Right. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. got up. He thought. for instance. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. and the colour of his hair. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. A sombre nod. "Mr. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side." said Mike.very largely into Mike's world." "Thank you. pulled up again." said the porter. but not much conversation had ensued. Jackson. sir. opened the door. sir. "Young gents at the school." said Mike frigidly. his appearance. "For the school. The future seemed wholly gloomy. He walked off up the road. seeing the name of the station. sir. You can't miss it. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said." "Here you are. Mike said nothing. sir. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812." added Mr. Barlitt's mind was massive. sorrier for himself than ever. It was such . as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. And. It's straight on up this road to the school. He disliked his voice. bustling up. sir. thanks. Mike nodded. and the man who took his ticket. and said. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. "It's a goodish step. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. so far from attempting to make the best of things. sir. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. sir. and Mike. He hated the station. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. George!" "I'll walk. Then he got out himself and looked about him. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. Also the boots he wore. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced.

He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. would be weak this year. But it was not the same thing. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. going in first. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. Presently the door opened. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look." . Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. Once he crossed a river.absolutely rotten luck. Outwood's. This must be Sedleigh. Outwood. "Yes. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. and knocked. if he survived a few overs. It was soon after this that he caught sight. Strachan was a good." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Now it might never be used. There were three houses in a row. And as captain of cricket. Outwood's was the middle one of these. He inquired for Mr. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. He had never been in command. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. and. sir. free bat on his day. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. too. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. and was shown into a room lined with books. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. and had lost both the Ripton matches. Enderby. Burgess. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. now that he was no longer there. Outwood. might make a century in an hour. and the house-master appeared. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. on top of all this. And now. "Jackson?" he said mildly. Mike went to the front door. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. from the top of a hill. who would be captain in his place. but almost as good. Wrykyn. About now. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. but he was not to be depended upon. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. The football fifteen had been hopeless. the return by over sixty points. at that. Which was the bitter part of it.

and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part." said Mike. Ambrose. said he had not. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. Jackson. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. My name. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. All alone in a strange school. very glad indeed. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. "Take a seat. "Hullo." he said. You will find the matron in her room. standing quite free from the apse wall. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. It will well repay a visit. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. Oh. Quite so. thin youth. "Hullo. He spoke in a tired voice. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Jackson. sir?" "What? Yes. You come from Crofton. where they probably played hopscotch. In many respects it is unique. Bishop Geoffrey. was leaning against the mantelpiece. Good-bye for the present. Quite so." said the immaculate one. then. yes. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. But this room was occupied. with chamfered plinth. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. It was a little hard. he spoke. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. A very long. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike." he added pensively. that's to say. A Nursery Garden in the Home. his gloom visibly deepened. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. finding his bearings. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. That sort of idea."I am very glad to see you. and fixed it in his right eye. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. What's yours?" . "is Smith. I understand. Jackson. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. As Mike entered. He strayed about. in Shropshire. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. Personally. good-bye. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays. I think you might like a cup of tea.

" "But why Sedleigh. and see that I did not raise Cain. At an early age. the name Zbysco." "No?" said Mike.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." "For Eton. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative." "Bad luck. then?" "Yes! Why. for choice. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. Cp. See? There are too many Smiths. and got it. "My infancy. I was superannuated last term. Sit down on yonder settee. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. there's just one thing. the P not being sounded. See?" Mike said he saw. "Let us start at the beginning. so I don't know. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. When I was but a babe. . In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). If you ever have occasion to write to me. and I don't care for Smythe." he resumed. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. Sedleigh gains." said Mike." said Mike. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. I was sent to Eton. the Pride of the School. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike. But. everybody predicting a bright career for me. I shall found a new dynasty. too. "it was not to be. "No. "but I've only just arrived. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk." said Psmith solemnly. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. yes. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. By the way. before I start. "Are you the Bully. We now pass to my boyhood. But what Eton loses. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. or simply Smith. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington.

laddie. "hangs a tale. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. Outwood. Now tell me yours." "Wrykyn. It's a great scheme. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. Lost lambs. who told my father. Sheep that have gone astray. who told our vicar. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. together we may worry through. To get off cricket. He could almost have embraced Psmith. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. "You have heard my painful story."That was the man. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. And. We must stick together. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. we fall. You work for the equal distribution of property. and so on. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. We are companions in misfortune. His dislike for his new school was not diminished. Comrade Jackson." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. Divided." . quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove. prowling about. Bit off his nut. The vicar told the curate. mark you. but a bit too thick for me. You ought to be one. A noble game. dusting his right trouser-leg. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. run by him." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. who told our curate. It goes out on half-holidays. There's a libel action in every sentence." "I am with you." said Psmith. The son of the vicar. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too." "And thereby. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. will you? I've just become a Socialist. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. Jawed about apses and things. We are practically long-lost brothers. Cheer a little. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life." said Psmith.

"Stout fellow. It was a biggish room." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other. at any rate. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. Let's go and look. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent." said Mike. This is practical Socialism. "We will. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. There were a couple of deal tables. called Wyatt. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. We must stake out our claims. we will go out of bounds." ." "Not now. and get our names shoved down for the Society. and a looking-glass." said Psmith. We shall thus improve our minds." he said. and straightening his tie. and one not without its meed of comfort. Psmith approved the resolve." "It would take a lot to make me do that. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. "is the exact programme. hand in hand. A chap at Wrykyn." he said. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native." They went upstairs." "Then let's beat up a study." "Good idea. Above all. Psmith opened the first of these. and do a bit on our own account." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. "This'll do us well." said Psmith approvingly. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. looking out over the school grounds. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. as it were. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. "Might have been made for us. and have a jolly good time as well." said Mike. "'Tis well. two empty bookcases. hung on a nail." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. I suppose they have studies here. We will snare the elusive fossil together. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. was one way of treating the situation. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. You and I."I'm not going to play here.

We make progress. I had several bright things to say on the subject. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. the first thing you know is. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. We make progress. "You couldn't make a long arm." said Psmith." "These school reports. What's this." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. Similarly. and begins to talk about himself. not ours. as he watched Mike light the Etna. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. A rattling at the handle followed. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. Hullo." said Psmith sympathetically. "Privacy. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. though." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. Do you think you could make a long arm. And now."His misfortune." . "are the very dickens. I wonder. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. He was full of ideas. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. somebody comes right in. could you. That putrid calendar must come down." said Mike. "The weed. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs." said Psmith. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. was rather a critic than an executant. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. There are moments when one wants to be alone. though the idea was Psmith's. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. and a voice outside said. It's got an Etna and various things in it." A heavy body had plunged against the door. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. if you want to be really useful. sits down.

perhaps." "My name's Spiller. Spiller evaded the question. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. and this is my study. we must be prepared for every emergency. freckled boy. on arrival. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. and said. "you stayed on till the later train. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. a people that know not Spiller." said Psmith. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. I am Psmith." he repeated. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi)." said Psmith. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. all might have been well. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. "to restore our tissues after our journey. put up his eyeglass." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled." said he." inquired the newcomer. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. deeply affected by his recital. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. It is unusual for people to go about the place . Your father held your hand and said huskily. 'Don't go. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. Comrade Spiller. 'Edwin. A stout fellow. "Well.Mike unlocked the door." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. "What the dickens. and. "In this life. "It's beastly cheek. you find strange faces in the familiar room. that's what I call it." Psmith went to the table. and flung it open. Come in and join us. But no. but one of us.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. Homely in appearance. it's beastly cheek." said Psmith. and screamed. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. He went straight to the root of the matter. we Psmiths. "It's beastly cheek. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. Edwin!' And so. practical order. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea." said Psmith. 'Edwin. We keep open house." "But we do. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment.

." The trio made their way to the Presence. Mr. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. sir. 'I couldn't." "Not an unsound scheme. He cannot cope with the situation. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. so. Spiller. As it is.bagging studies. and Jackson. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. "And Smith. Mike sullen. and I'm next on the house list. "Ah. and the other's the accelerator. Psmith particularly debonair. "All I know is. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in.' he said." he said. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower. it's my study. I am glad to see that you have already made friends. It was Simpson's last term. He hummed lightly as he walked. But what of Spiller. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. I'm going to have it. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. The thing comes on you as a surprise. we know." said Psmith. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said." said Psmith. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. 'I wouldn't. "are you going to take? Spiller. Spiller.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. Error! Ah. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. you are unprepared. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way.' Take the present case. let this be a lesson to you. We may as well all go together. One's the foot-brake." "But what steps. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. Spiller pink and determined." Mr. and skidded into a ditch. and we stopped dead. By no means a scaly project. Spiller.' So he stamped on the accelerator. 'Now we'll let her rip." "Spiller's. and Simpson's left. of course." "Look here. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. the man of Logic.

if you were not too busy." "Undoubtedly. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday." pursued Psmith earnestly. Downing." said Psmith. "Yes. Spiller. sir. Smith?" "Intensely. quite so. never had any difficulty in finding support." he said at last. "I have been unable to induce to join." "Please. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. sir--" said Spiller. Smith. sir. Cricket and football. too!" Mr. Mr. Archaeology fascinates me. he is one of our oldest members." . "that accounts for it. "His heart is the heart of a little child." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. sir--" began Spiller. were in the main earnest. Boys came readily at his call. Smith. sir."Er--quite so. tolerantly. Outwood beamed. Mr. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join." said Psmith sadly. "I understand. A grand pursuit. I--er--in a measure look after it. Smith. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times." Mr. His colleague. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." "Not at all. "One moment. sir--" said Spiller." "Spiller. I will put down your name at once. Most delighted. Do you want to join. Smith. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." "And Jackson's. sir." "Oh. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. "I am delighted." he said." said Psmith. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez." "Please. very pleased indeed. sir." "Ah. "Yes. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you. while his own band. Is there anything----" "Please. Spiller. not at all. "One moment. We have a small Archaeological Society. though small. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. This enthusiasm is most capital. sir. I am very pleased. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please." "There is no vice in Spiller. games that left him cold. appeared to be the main interest in their lives. This is capital. two miles from the school." "Jackson. sir. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill.

"Please. Quite so. sir. A very good idea. You should have spoken before. "is very. if you could spare the time. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. I come next after Simpson. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. very trying for a man of culture." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means." "Capital!" "Please. Spiller." "Thank you very much. Spiller. as they closed the door. sir. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him." said Psmith. Outwood. sir. Smith. "is your besetting fault. "There is just one other matter. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. Fight against it."We shall be there. of course. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller." "Certainly. "One moment. sir--" said Spiller. sir." "Quite so. Spiller. Correct it. sir. Edwin." said Psmith. sir. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons." "Quite so. An excellent arrangement. Spiller. We will move our things in. "This tendency to delay. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. "We should. sir." "All this sort of thing." "Thank you very much. Smith." "Yes." "But. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. sir. Smith." shouted Spiller." He turned to Mr." he said." said Mike. sir.

we're all right while we stick here. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. "He thinks of everything! You're the man." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." "The loss was mine. I mean. Smith. he would not have appreciated it properly. they can only get at us through the door. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." "And jam a chair against it." "_And_. but we can't stay all night. "The difficulty is." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. "We will now. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. I don't like rows. but we must rout him out once more. Comrade Jackson." said Psmith courteously. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder." said Psmith. "about when we leave this room. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night." As they got up." Psmith eyed Mike with approval." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. as you rightly remark." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. jam a chair against it. face the future for awhile. and this time there followed a knocking. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. . there is nothing he can deny us. though. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. We are as sons to him. Here we are in a stronghold." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. the door handle rattled again. "We ought to have known each other before. I say." Mike was finishing his tea." he said."There are few pleasures." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." he said with approval. and we can lock that. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. with your permission. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories.

because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's." said Psmith. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. Do you happen to know of any snug little room." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. "He might get about half a dozen." Mike unlocked the door." said Mike. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." sighed Psmith. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." said Psmith approvingly. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. in his practical way. not more. for instance. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. "Let us parley with the man. "is cursing you like anything downstairs. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." giggled Jellicoe. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. then?" asked Mike." "Sturdy common sense." he explained." "As I suspected. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." said Psmith. with." said Psmith." "How many _will_ there be. say." said Psmith." "Old Spiller." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. only it belongs to three . "I just came up to have a look at you. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. "If you move a little to the left. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it.

We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance. if you would have any objection to Jackson. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. "That door. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study." said Psmith." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. crowding . Better leave the door open. I like to see it--I like to see it. Ah. The handle began to revolve again. "has sprung up between Jackson. Smith. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Comrade Spiller. as they returned to the study. Things." he said. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before." This time it was a small boy. "are beginning to move. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." "And we can have the room." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down." "I believe in the equal distribution of property. I think." Mr." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith." said Psmith. sir. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. "Yes. and some other chaps." "We were wondering. "We must apologise for disturbing you. Jellicoe and myself." "You make friends easily. it will save trouble. sir----" "Not at all. Smith?" he said. come in. Smith. as the messenger departed. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. the others waited outside." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down." "And now." he said. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it.chaps.

Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. was just in time to see Psmith. "Come on. Comrade Spiller. "Look here. This time." said Spiller. As Mike arrived. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. and the handle. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. the enemy gave back. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. . instead of resisting. was it? Well. you chaps. His was a simple and appreciative mind. and then to stand by for the next attack. turning after re-locking the door. but it was needless. if you don't. "Who was our guest?" he asked. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. Jellicoe giggled in the background. Mike jumped to help. the first shot has been fired." A heavy body crashed against the door. stepping into the room again. but Mike had been watching. Mike. "We must act." said Mike. swung open. and Mike. "A neat piece of work. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. the captive was already on the window-sill. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg." cried Spiller suddenly. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable." "You'll get it the doorway. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall." said Psmith approvingly. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson." said Jellicoe. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. "Robinson." "We'll risk it. "They'll have it down. however. The dogs of war are now loose. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. always. For a moment the doorway was blocked. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. I say. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. the door. slammed the door and locked it.

"No." said Mike. Well. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. It read: "Directly this is over. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in." "This. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. "There's no harm in going out. and see what happens." said Mike. "we shall have to go now. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. "You'd better come out. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. Jellicoe knocked at the door. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. they were first out of the room. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it." The passage was empty when they opened the door. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. "Tea. I shouldn't think. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time." Mike followed the advice. we would be alone. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. but Psmith was in his element. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. you know." said Psmith. but it can't go on. we will play the fixture on our own ground. and have it out?" said Mike." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. . so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. Spiller." "Leave us. When they had been in the study a few moments. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. you'll only get it hotter if you don't." "They won't do anything till after tea. Spiller's face was crimson. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. of course." he said." said Jellicoe. leaning against the mantelpiece.Somebody hammered on the door. "is exciting. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash." A bell rang in the distance. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace.

it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. that human encyclopaedia. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. where Robinson also had a bed. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven." said Psmith placidly. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. And now." said Jellicoe. He never hears anything. "the matter of noise. Shall we be moving?" Mr. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. and disappeared again. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. well-conducted establishment. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. retiring at ten."Quite right. It was probable. deposed that Spiller. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. Mr." "Then I think. . but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. as predicted by Jellicoe. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms." said Mike." said Psmith. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. _ne pas_. "only he won't. therefore. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. We shall be glad of his moral support. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. but otherwise. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. "And touching." said Psmith. As to the time when an attack might be expected. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. they rag him. he'll simply sit tight." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. closing the door. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner.

If they have. "These humane preparations being concluded. Psmith surveyed the result with approval." said Mike. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. If they have no candle. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. Comrade Jellicoe. showed that Jellicoe. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. Subject to your approval."How about that door?" said Mike. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. waiting for him. they may wait at the top of the steps. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. listening. There was a creaking sound. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. ." said Psmith. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. Mike was tired after his journey. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. directly he heard the door-handle turned. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. There were three steps leading down to it. He would then----" "I tell you what. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. too. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. "Dashed neat!" he said. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. but far otherwise. which is close to the door. "we will retire to our posts and wait. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. as on this occasion. Napoleon would have done that. had heard the noise. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. Comrade Jackson. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. I always ask myself on these occasions. silence is essential. too. and a slight giggle. especially if. I have evolved the following plan of action. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

the Archaeological Society here. I fear." "On archaeology." said Psmith. too. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. Comrade Outwood loves us." He stumped off. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. "I was not alluding to you in particular. Outwood last night. nothing else. eh?" It was a master. Scarcely had he gone. both in manner and appearance. But in my opinion it is foolery. sir. I like every new boy to begin at once. looking after him. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. and walked on. sir. sir. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. sir." "We are. A short. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question." "A very wild lot. "I don't like it. I was referring to the principle of the thing. We want keenness here. with fervour. When we heard that there was a society here. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys." said Mr. It gets him into idle. not wandering at large about the country. I tell you I don't like it. we went singing about the house. to an excitable bullfinch. "I saw Adair speaking to you. Let's go on and see what sort . We are. Archaeology is a passion with us. Downing vehemently." Mr. "Excellent. shaking his head. "If you choose to waste your time. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. I want every boy to be keen." "I never loaf. sir. loafing habits. I suppose I can't hinder you." said Psmith." "Good job. a keen school." "At any rate. The more new blood we have.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." said Psmith. I suppose you will both play. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. the better. above all." Adair turned. "Now _he's_ cross. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance." sighed Psmith.

It was on a Thursday afternoon. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. Altogether. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. Numbers do not make good cricket." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. that swash-buckling pair. after . and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. was a mild._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. but there were some quite capable men. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. And now he positively ached for a game. and Stone was a good slow bowler. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. The batting was not so good. and Milton. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. There were times. when the sun shone. Barnes. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. Mike would have placed above him. the head of Outwood's. and Wyatt. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. was a very good bowler indeed. in his three years' experience of the school. He did not repeat the experiment. mostly in Downing's house. Adair. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. It couldn't be done. Any sort of a game." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. were both fair batsmen. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. Lead me to the nearest net. by the law of averages. He was not a Burgess. What made it worse was that he saw. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. "I _will_ be good. There were other exponents of the game. after watching behind the nets once or twice. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. Stone and Robinson themselves. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. to begin with.

Roman camps. "What?" he said. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng." said Adair coldly. as he sat there watching. Mike. give me the pip. Psmith approached Mike. he would have patronised that. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. could stand it no longer. and was trying not to show it. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. He was amiable. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. More abruptly this time. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. and brood apart for awhile." "Over there" was the end net. He looked up. "This is the first eleven net. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. to be absolutely accurate. let us slip away. The day was warm. He went up to Adair. He patronised fossils. from increased embarrassment. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. "Having inspired confidence. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. "Go in after Lodge over there. He was embarrassed and nervous. This is the real cricket scent." it may be observed. "by the docility of our demeanour. and he patronised ruins. Let us find some shady nook where a . for Mr. Mr. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. seemed to enjoy them hugely. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman Psmith." he said. but patronising. Mike walked away without a word. Mike repeated his request. "This net. and kept them by his aide. was the first eleven net.

Mike liked dogs. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. and began to bark vigorously at him. In fact. and sitting down. Mine are like some furrowed field. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action." he said. Their departure had passed unnoticed. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. this looks a likely spot. At the further end there was a brook. but he could not place him. In passing. and may lie on his back for a bit. broad young man with a fair moustache. Call me in about an hour. unless you have anything important to say. "A fatiguing pursuit. Comrade Jackson. and closed his eyes. finding this a little dull. I rather think I'll go to sleep. I can tell you." "The dickens you--Why. and began to explore the wood on the other side. above all. hitching up the knees of his trousers. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. dancing in among my . In the same situation a few years before. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. "and no farther. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. Mike would have carried on. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. and trusted to speed to save him." Mike. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. "And. and they strolled away down the hill. offered no opposition. they always liked him. We will rest here awhile. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. and listen to the music of the brook. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. "Thus far. lay down. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. he got up. this grubbing for mementoes of the past." And Psmith." said Psmith. Mike sat on for a few minutes. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. "I played against you. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. for the Free Foresters last summer. on acquaintance. Looking back. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. He came back to where the man was standing. He was too late. He was a short." said Psmith. Ah. "I was just having a look round. and. jumped the brook." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond.

He began to talk about himself. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. Very keen." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." said Mike. There's a sign-post where you turn off. You made fifty-eight not out." "I'm frightfully sorry. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. "So. you know. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. * * * * * . I'll tell you how it is. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." And he told how matters stood with him. You're Prendergast. "I hang out down here. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped." "That's all right." "Thanks. I say. "Only village. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is." he concluded. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. By Jove.nesting pheasants." "I'll play on a rockery." "I'll give you all you want. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. We all start out together. turning to the subject next his heart. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. but I could nip back. I'm simply dying for a game. By the way. It's just off the London road. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. but no great shakes. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket." "I'll lend you everything. you see. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. if you want me to. Look here. only cover dropped it. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather." "You ought to have had me second ball.

The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. though he would not have admitted it. Downing. Downing's special care. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. It was not Wrykyn. I say. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. Mr."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. to enjoy himself. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. and it grew with further acquaintance. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. Mike began." One of the most acute of these crises. "I'm going to play cricket. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. Mr. and Mr. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. Jackson. on being awakened and told the news. M. punctuated at intervals by crises. To Mr. fussy. never an easy form-master to get on with. As time went on. and the most important. but it was a very decent substitute. Cricket I dislike. Downing. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. sleepily. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. To Mike. If you like the game. pompous." "My lips are sealed. for a village near here. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr." * * * * * That Saturday. It was. Downing. will you? I don't want it to get about. life can never be entirely grey. indeed. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. employed doing "over-time. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. I think I'll come and watch you. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. don't tell a soul.

about thirty in all. short for Sampson. or Downing. Wilson. Outwood. Downing's form-room. He had long legs. Downing. These two officials were those sportive allies. Stone and Robinson. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. a tenor voice. of Outwood's house." . After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. light-hearted dog with a white coat. had joined young and worked their way up. sir. with green stripes. and a particular friend of Mike's. The Brigade was carefully organised.esteem of Mr. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. sir. "One moment. As soon as Mr. Downing. "Shall I put it to the vote. Sammy. Wilson?" "Please. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. spirit. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. We will now proceed to the painful details. of the School House. To show a keenness for cricket was good. To-day they were in very fair form. and was apparently made of india-rubber. much in request during French lessons. and under the captain a vice-captain. Downing. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. Under them were the rank and file. sir?" asked Stone. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. a sort of high priest. "Well. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. Downing pondered "Red. Sammy was the other." Red. who looked on the Brigade in the right. In passing. with a thin green stripe. who. He was a large. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. the tongue of an ant-eater. Stone. held up his hand. was the Sedleigh colour. The rest were entirely frivolous. At its head was Mr. under him was a captain. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. The proceedings always began in the same way. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. an engaging expression. Downing had closed the minute-book. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye.

Stone. perfectly preposterous. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please." said Robinson." said Stone. get back to your place. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. sir." "Please. "I don't think my people would be pleased. sit down--Wilson. Mr."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. sir. sir. listen to me. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. sir. please. the danger!" "Please. sir. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. Well. "Silence!" "Then. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is." ." A scuffling of feet. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. those against it to the right. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. Stone. Mr. sir. out of the question. sir. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. We cannot plunge into needless expense. "Sit down!" he said. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. and the meeting had divided. sir-r-r!" "But. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. The whole strength of the company: "Please. of course." "Please. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. sir. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. Wilson?" "Please. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard." "Oo-oo-oo-oo." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. of course. sir. Downing banged on his desk.

"Our Wilson is facetious. "Noise." as he reached the door." he remarked frostily. Mr. Downing. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. Downing smiled a wry smile. sir?" said a voice "off. "Very well--be quick. sir?" asked Mike. sir-r-r. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. sir?" inquired Mike. sir!" "This moment. "do me one hundred lines. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. I think. sir. Jackson. sir?" asked Mike. "A bird. sir. puzzled. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice." said Stone helpfully.Mr. "I think it's something outside the window. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. We must have keenness. sir. I want you boys above all to be keen." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. "May I fetch a book from my desk." A pained "OO-oo-oo. He was not alone. sir? No. "Sir. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. no. mingled with cries half-suppressed. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. _please_. as many Wrykynians . The muffled cries grew more distinct. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. there must be less of this flippancy. "It's outside the door." he said." "What _sort_ of noise. And." said Robinson. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. Wilson. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. I'm not making a whining noise. Those near enough to see. Wilson!" "Yes." was cut off by the closing door. Downing. Downing. we are busy. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. leave the room!" "Sir.

if you do not sit down." "Yes. sir." "Or somebody's boots. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. "to imitate the noise. others flung books. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. go quietly from the room. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. the same! Go to your seat. Jackson and Wilson. rising from his place. threats. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. Mr. Downing's desk resembled thunder. "Perhaps that's it. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. The banging on Mr. sir. Mr. Chaos reigned.had asked before him. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. bustling scene. all of you. like Marius. I said. What are you doing. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. and was now standing. Henderson. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. "Stone. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat." added Robinson. sir. you will be severely punished. Come in. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. among the ruins barking triumphantly. sit down! Donovan. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham." put in Stone." "They are mowing the cricket field. remain. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. "They do sometimes. Vincent. It was a stirring. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. Downing. Downing shot out orders." said the invisible Wilson. _Quietly_." Crash! . Downing acidly. Some leaped on to forms. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that. all shouted. It is a curious whining noise. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation." said Mr. "I do not propose.

so he came in. Mike the dog. Wilson. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. but Mr."Wolferstan. and had refused to play cricket. too. Jackson. and he came in after the rat. "One hundred lines. That will do. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. but nevertheless a member. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. Mr. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. Go quietly from the room." he said. it was true. "Jackson and Wilson. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. sir. sir. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade." said Wilson. Also he kept wicket for the school. I fear. Wilson?" "Please. everybody. but when you told me to come in. "Well." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him." And Mr. come here." The meeting dispersed. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines." It was plain to Mr. sir. Downing walked out of the room. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. Jackson." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. Downing turned to Mike. "You may go. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. as one who tells of strange things. frivolous at times. We are a keen school. Jackson." said Mike. Wilson had supplied the rat. I had to let him go. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. and paid very little for it. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. Mr." "I tried to collar him.

He felt that he. "As a matter of fact. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. by return of post. You can freeze on to it. Mike's heart warmed to them. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. I do happen to have a quid." "Oh." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. done with. as a matter of fact. (Which. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. Stone beamed. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. He was in warlike mood. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . it may be stated at once. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. without preamble. so don't be shy about paying it back. he would be practically penniless for weeks. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. The fact is. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. But it's about all I have got. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. and got up. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. they should have it. Jellicoe came into the room. There was. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. sorry. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. the return match. after the Sammy incident. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. forgotten. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. and welcomed the intrusion. if you like. Robinson was laughing. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room." said Mike. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex.They say misfortunes never come singly. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. "You're a sportsman. asked for the loan of a sovereign. They sat down. and. "I say. Robinson on the table. contemporary with Julius Caesar. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. I'm in a beastly hole. he did. Mike put down his pen." said Robinson.

and you never get more than a hundred lines. He got a hundred lines.public school. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them." "Don't you!" said Mike. above all. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. "Well. and then they usually sober down. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. If you know one end of a bat from the other. As for Mike." . he now found them pleasant company. They had a certain amount of muscle. a keen school." "'We are. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. You can do what you like. you could get into some sort of a team. Masters were rather afraid of them. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement." said Stone." said Mike. small and large. They were useful at cricket. They were absolutely free from brain. As to the kind of adventure. My pater took me away. loud and boisterous. "Were you sacked?" "No. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. and began to get out the tea-things. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone.'" quoted Stone. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. They go about. Winifred's" brand. "are a rag. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. "I got Saturday afternoon. and a vast store of animal spirits.

why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. Place called Little Borlock. My word. I say. if I'd stopped on." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten." said Stone. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat." "What!" "Well. Stone gaped. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day. We're playing Downing's. There are always house matches." said Mike. and the others?" "Brother. "I've got an idea. You _must_ play. Stone broke the silence. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. do play. I say. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler." "Adair sticks on side. yes. and I should have been captain this year. I was in the team three years." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. "By Jove. You don't get ordered about by Adair." "Think of the rag. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. "Enough for six." "Masters don't play in house matches. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." said Stone. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. W. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. I play for a village near here." agreed Robinson. Only a friendly. look here. and knock the cover off him. "Why. "I did. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. "Why. for a start."Wrykyn?" said Robinson." said Robinson. but they always have it in the fourth week. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is." .

Mike was not a genuine convert."But the team's full. . Barnes appeared. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. "I say." said Mike." said Mike. He studied his _Wisden_. but to Mr. and make him alter it. Downing assumed it. and when." he said. quite unexpectedly. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. "The list isn't up yet. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. Mr. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. "I say. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. "Thanks awfully. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. Most leap at the opportunity. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. Downing he had the outward aspect of one." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. THEN. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. then." They dashed out of the room. It was so in Mike's case. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert." he said. and a murmur of excited conversation. I was in the team. I mean. Then footsteps returning down the passage. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted." "Yes. "Are you the M. JACKSON. Jackson. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes.

* * * * * Barnes. "We are. the archaeologist of yesterday. Drones are not welcomed by us. sir. Downing. working really hard. with a kind of mild surprise. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. competition is fierce. Adair. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. Jackson. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. We are essentially versatile. above all. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. "What!" he cried." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. becomes the cricketer of to-day. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. except for the creases. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. Your enthusiasm has bounds. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. It is the right spirit." he said. With Mike it was different. Downing's No. sir. as captain of cricket. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. sir. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. I notice. had naturally selected the best for his own match." said Psmith earnestly. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Mike saw. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness." "Indeed. It was a good wicket. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. Mike. in the way he took .He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. timidly jubilant. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. Smith? You are not playing yourself. "I like to see it. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. where the nervous new boy. "a keen house. on the cricket field. who was with Mike." "In our house. contrives to get an innings in a game. 2 manner--the playful. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which.

Mr. and mid-on. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's.guard. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. The fieldsmen changed over. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. The first over was a maiden. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. The ball was well up. gave a jump. when delivered. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. six dangerous balls beautifully played. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. This time the hope was fulfilled. Mike went out at it. A half-volley this time. Mike slammed it back. "Get to them. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. slow. and ended with a combination of step and jump. Mike took guard. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. Downing irritably. Downing's slows. as the ball came . and off the wicket on the on-side. they were disappointed. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. but it stopped as Mr. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. in his stand at the wickets. Mike started cautiously. Jenkins. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. failed to stop it. but the programme was subject to alterations." said Mr. two long steps. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. and he knew that he was good. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. The ball. and dashed up against the rails. was billed to break from leg. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. He had got a sight of the ball now. He took two short steps. and. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. as several of the other games had not yet begun. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. took three more short steps. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground.

When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. The expected happened. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. And a shrill small voice. it is usually as well to be batting. This happened now with Mr. By the time the over was finished. and. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. Downing would pitch his next ball short. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. and bowling well. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. offering no more chances. and Mike. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. and the total of his side. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. without the slightest success. Adair came up. one is inclined to be abrupt. in addition. if you can manage it. Mike had then made a hundred and three. by three wides. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. sat on the splice like a limpet. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. where. The third ball was a slow long-hop. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. Then he looked up. Jenkins. in Adair's fifth over. Downing bowled one more over. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. "Get to them. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. please.back from the boundary." "Sir. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. there was a strong probability that Mr. Downing. uttered with painful distinctness the words. and then retired moodily to cover-point. ." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. Mr. waited in position for number four. Scared by this escape. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen.

It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. am I?" said Mike. Three years. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. There's a difference. "Sick! I should think they would. I suppose?" "Not a bit." Adair was silent for a moment. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. having got Downing's up a tree. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals." There was another pause. "That's just the gay idea. Downing. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. "I'm not keeping you. too. and the school noticed it. "Great Scott. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. Barnes's remark that he supposed. "I never saw such a chump." said Stone. The result was that not only he himself. "No." There was a silence. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. "Declare!" said Robinson. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. "Above it. I said I wasn't going to play here."I didn't say anything of the kind. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . thanks. As a matter of fact. Mr. was met with a storm of opposition. Not up to it. politely. won't they?" suggested Barnes." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. Of all masters. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh.

The first-change pair are poor. Mr. playing himself in again. And the rest. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. mercifully.can. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. I won't then. These are the things which mark epochs. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. after a full day's play. fortified by food and rest. Time. Bowlers came and went. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. if I can get it. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance.15. that directly he had topped his second century." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . "If you declare. in one of which a horse. going in first early in the morning. and Stone came out. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. Barnes. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. proceeded to get to business once more. "Only you know they're rather sick already." "So do I." "Well. But still the first-wicket stand continued." said Stone with a wide grin. passing in the road. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. I swear I won't field." "Don't you worry about that. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. In no previous Sedleigh match. greatly daring. Play was resumed at 2. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. was bowling really well. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. or when one is out without one's gun. Nor will Robinson. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces." said Barnes unhappily. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. each weirder and more futile than the last. tried their luck." "Rather not. the small change. and Mike. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short.30. amidst applause. Games had frequently been one-sided. Besides. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. Downing took a couple more overs. Adair." said Robinson. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. At four o'clock. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. and that is what happened now. it was assumed by the field.

He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. sir. "This is foolery. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something. (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. we can't unless Barnes does.." snapped Mr." Mr... But the next ball was bowled. _c_.... as who should say. J.. "Barnes!" he called.." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.. a week later. There was no reply. Downing walked moodily to his place..... 33 M. First innings.. "Barnes!" "Please. The game has become a farce.. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. was mounting steadily. and the next after that. 277 W.." "It is perfect foolery.way. capital. Barnes. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's." "Absurd. but an excellent eye. but his score.." "Declare! Sir. not out. Mike's pace had become slower... and the next over. sir.) A grey dismay settled on the field. Lobs were being tried. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type.. Hammond.. He had an unorthodox style." "This is absurd. just above the mantelpiece... sir. "Capital.. there was on view." "He's very touchy..... nearly weeping with pure joy. Hassall.. Downing... Stone.. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. "I think Barnes must have left the field.. as a matter of fact. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad..... too. Jackson..... not out." said Stone. a slip of paper. and Stone._ J. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. _b_." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. as was only natural... P.. And now let's start _our_ innings. You must declare your innings closed.. 124 . A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. and still Barnes made no sign. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain...

Downing..." "I don't care. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe.. is. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. "the the place was crept to my side.. 37 ----Total (for one wicket).... he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. touched me This interested Mike. Mike. for three quid." he said. fagged as he was.. in a small way.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again... But your performance was cruelty to animals.. Comrade Jellicoe and." .. I should say that. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little.. if he had cared to take the part. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. 471 Downing's did not bat.Extras... not to mention three wides. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. Twenty-eight off one over... I suppose. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. Psmith. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind.. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot..." said he.. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler... On the other hand. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. would have made Job foam at the mouth. In fact. it's worth it..... One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. could have been the Petted Hero... leaning against the mantelpiece. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair.. felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. here and there." murmured Mike. "In theory. You will probably get sacked. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out.. When all ringing with song and merriment.. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries.. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket. and Mike." "He doesn't deserve to. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. "In an ordinary way.. slipping his little hand in mine. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel.

There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe." * * * * * a log. nothing. Psmith chatted for general. but he could not sleep." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. I hope. who appeared to be to the conversation. as the best substitute for sleep." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. . and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. He wanted four. when he's collected enough for his needs. Jackson!" he said. he'll pay me back a bit. I'm pretty well cleaned out. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. "Are you asleep. the various points of his innings that day. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. I'm stiff all over." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. It was done on the correspondence system. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. clinking sovereigns." There was a creaking. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. "I say. and then dropped gently off." "Nor can I. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. wrapped in gloom. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath. Well. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. I can't get to sleep. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived." Silence again. He uttered no word for quite three minutes.

and presently you'd hear them come in. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. But if you were. After being sacked. as it were. you know. I meant." "Everybody's would. and then you'd have to hang about. and the servant would open the door. and you'd go out into the passage. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. "Nobody. I expect. and you'd drive up to the house. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. too. I don't know. My sister would be jolly sick. So would mine. in order to give verisimilitude." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. Then he spoke again." "Yes. Have you got any sisters. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way." "Happen when?" "When you got home. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. "My pater would be frightfully sick. Especially my pater. and you'd go in." The bed creaked. He was not really listening."Jackson. They might all be out. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. My mater would be sick. I suppose. "Hullo?" he said. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts." Mike dozed off again." "Hullo?" "I say. or to Australia. And then you'd be sent into a bank. or something. and wait. Jackson? I say. and all that. Why?" "Oh.

" said Jellicoe eagerly. You'll wake Smith. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. of other members of English public schools." "Whose sisters?" "Yours." Mike pondered. But it's jolly serious. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody. already looking about him for further loans. This thing was too much. look out. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. do you?" "What!" cried Mike. though people whom he liked . He resembled ninety per cent. "I say. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. where he was a natural genius." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. He changed the subject. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. I asked if you'd got any." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters."Me--Jellicoe. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. Was it a hobby. Except on the cricket field. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect." "Any _what_?" "Sisters." "Any what?" "Sisters. He had some virtues and a good many defects." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He was as obstinate as a mule. "Do _what_?" "I say. he was just ordinary. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon.

and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. Young blood had been shed overnight. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. and had. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. The great match had not been an ordinary match. Finally. Where it was a case of saving a friend. To begin with. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. Downing to come. As Psmith had said. one good quality without any defect to balance it. He was rigidly truthful. Bob's postal order. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat.could do as they pleased with him. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. In addition to this. Mr. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. which had arrived that evening. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. he had never felt stiffer in his life. Downing was a curious man in many ways. till Psmith. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. stood in a class by itself. but. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. That would probably be unpleasant. And when he set himself to do this. He was always ready to help people. however. there was the interview with Mr. It was a wrench. it had to be done. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. which made the matter worse. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. It was a particularly fine day. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. he was in detention. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. in his childhood. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. . but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. where the issue concerned only himself. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. The thought depressed him. Mr. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. Yesterday's performance. And Mr. He was good-natured as a general thing. in addition. Downing and his house realised this. He had. who had a sensitive ear.

sir. No." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. Mike. You must act a lie. I have spoken of this before.Mr. that prince of raggers. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. of necessity. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. he was perfectly right. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. It would be too commonplace altogether. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. at sea. Mr." "Well. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. "No. which was as a suit of mail against satire. Downing came down from the heights with a run. "You are surrounded. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. in the excitement of this side-issue. And. Macpherson. the skipper. in their experience of the orator. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. since the glorious day when Dunster. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. works it off on the boy. the user of it must be met half-way. sir. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. That is to say. no. more elusive. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. did with much success. By the time he had reached his peroration. Just as. For sarcasm to be effective. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look ." concluded Mr. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. he began in a sarcastic strain. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. sir. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. when he has trouble with the crew. Far too commonplace!" Mr. Downing. you must conceal your capabilities. So Mr. Which Mike." "Please. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back. Downing laughed bitterly. that would not be dramatic enough for you. When a master has got his knife into a boy. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. As events turned out. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. the speaker lost his inspiration.

This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling." "I'll give you a hand. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. puts his hands over his skull. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it." said Mike. zeal outrunning discretion. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. he prodded himself too energetically. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in." "It's swelling up rather. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Mike had strolled out by himself." said Mike. Dunster. But I did yell. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. "Silly ass. To their left. "I shall have to be going in. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. is not a little confusing. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. you know." "Awfully sorry. "slamming about like that. "Awfully sorry. as they crossed the field. on hearing the shout. man." said Dunster. Jellicoe hopping. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's the pitch. crouches down and trusts to luck. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. and rather embarrassingly grateful. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. Jellicoe was cheerful. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. "or I'd have helped you over. ." he groaned. The bright-blazered youth walked up. a long youth. uttering sharp howls whenever. The average person. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground.

Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. faithful below he did his duty. Well hit." said Psmith. the darling of the crew. "were at a private school together." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon." said Dunster. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. felt very much behind the times. apply again. Mike made his way towards the pavilion." said Dunster. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to." said the animal delineator. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "More. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. Before he got there he heard his name called. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. Dunster gave dawg. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind." said Psmith." said Dunster. Have a cherry?--take one or two." sighed Psmith. Comrade Jackson. man. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Hullo! another man out. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. pained. and turning." "Alas. as he walked to the cricket field. and when you have finished those. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. "Return of the exile. I'd no idea I should find him here. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. Mike. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever." stirring sight when we met. "more. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. Restore your tissues." ." "I heard about yesterday." "Old Smith and I. The fifth ball bowled a man. "You needn't be a funny ass. I notice.

It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. Soliloquy is a knack. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M." said Jellicoe gloomily. "I mean. Personally. not so much physical as mental. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. "I say." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. Hamlet had got it. "Oh! chuck it." said Psmith. the sun was in my eyes. I need some one to listen when I talk." "Has he?" said Psmith. "I hadn't heard. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. I shall get sacked. but probably only after years of patient practice. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. I suppose." said Psmith. at last.C. Mike stretched himself." "I shall count the minutes. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. man."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. he felt disinclined for exertion. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. do you?" he said. "it's too late. it'll keep till tea-time." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster.C. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" ." "Don't dream of moving. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse." said Psmith to Mike. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. I like to feel that I am doing good.

" said Mike. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. Every village team." "I say. "I'm awfully sorry." "He's the chap I owe the money to. only I got crocked. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. He was a large. look here." "It doesn't matter. who looked . has its comic man. I'll get out of the house after lights-out." "Yes. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr." "I say." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." Jellicoe sat up. stout man." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." said Jellicoe miserably. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. so I couldn't move. for some mysterious reason. called Lower Borlock. it can. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. "I say. Barley filled the post."It's about that money." "What absolute rot!" "But. "it can't be helped. do you think you could. he was the wag of the village team. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. it's as easy as anything. hang it!" he said. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. it's frightfully decent of you. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. with a red and cheerful face. "Oh." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face.

He took the envelope containing the money without question. I won't tell him." said Jellicoe." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . Probably in business hours After all. which was unfortunate." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. and if Jellicoe owed it." he said. and be full of the milk he was quite different. but it did not occur to him to ask. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. "I shall bike there." "I say. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. I----" "Oh. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." "All right. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. "it's locked up at night. "You can manage that. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. another. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. I think. chuck it!" said Mike. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it." "I'll get it from him. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. there was nothing strange in Mr. five pounds is a large sum of money. Besides. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. "if I can get into the shed. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama.

Mike would have been glad of a companion. Still. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. by the cricket field. Psmith had yielded up the key. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. "One of the Georges. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. Probably he would have volunteered to come. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. which. The place was shut. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. However. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. "Why. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. there you are. "I forget which. which for the time being has slipped my memory. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout." said Psmith. sir?" said the boots. 'ullo! Mr. Jackson. The advantage an inn has over a private house. being wishful to get the job done without delay. "Yes. until he came to the inn. with whom early rising was not a hobby. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven.expulsion. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. Jackson was easy-going with his family. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Mr. communicating with the boots' room. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. for many reasons. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. too. of course. I've given you the main idea of the thing. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. also. Mike did not want to be expelled. .

" "The five--" Mr. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. dear!" chuckled Mr." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. of course. which creaked under him. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. "You can pop off. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. hoping for light. and had another attack. read it. "Dear. Barley opened the letter. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. "Well. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school." "I must see him. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. It was an occasion for rejoicing. and wiped his eyes." "Oh. Barley. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. "What's up?" he asked. Then he collapsed into a chair. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. and now he felt particularly fogged. I've got some money to give to him." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. Mr. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. who was waiting patiently by. thankful. Jack. Jack. perhaps. but rather for a solemn." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. Jackson. the five pounds. if it's _that_--" said the boots. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. and requested him to read it. Jackson. Mr. Barley. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind." Mr."I want to see Mr. "Oh dear!" he said. . looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type.

'I'll have a game with Mr. I hope it is in time." it ran. The other day. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. in fact." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. and as sharp as mustard. Barley slapped his leg. Jane--she's the worst of the two. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. and the damage'll be five pounds. about 'ar parse five. "DEAR MR. it was signed "T. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. "Why. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. and rode off on his return journey. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. Jellicoe over this.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. Mike was . it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. since. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. last Wednesday it were. simply in order to satisfy Mr. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. is another matter altogether. Love us!" Mr. Barley slapped his thigh. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. but to be placed in a dangerous position. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. Mr. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. Mischief! I believe you. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. they are. but. always up to it.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. which I could not get before. took back the envelope with the five pounds. "he took it all in. It would have been cruel to damp the man. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. finishing this curious document." There was some more to the same effect. Jellicoe. BARLEY. Mike. Mr. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. So I says to myself. Aberdeen terriers. Barley's sense of humour. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things.--"I send the £5. G. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. the affair of old Tom Raxley.

and through the study window. On the first day of term. however. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. With this knowledge. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. and as he wheeled his machine find this out for himself. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. Without waiting to discover what this might be. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. after which he ran across to Outwood's. of which the house was the centre. carried on up the water-pipe. Sergeant Collard . his foot touched something on the floor. As he did so. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. his pursuer again gave tongue. went out. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. and running. Downing's house. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. as Mike came to the ground. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. It was from the right-hand gate. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. The suddenness. Mike felt easier in his mind. It was pitch-dark in the shed. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. and locked the door. There were two gates to Mr. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. and. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. nearest to Mr. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. Outwood's front garden. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. This he accomplished with success. that the voice had come. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. and gone to bed.

Having arrived there. . His programme now was simple. Like Mike. Focussing his gaze. Then he would trot softly back. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. His thoughts were miles away. this time at a walk. this was certainly the next best thing. His first impression. taking things easily. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. he sat on the steps. passing through the gate. that he had been seen and followed. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. "Is that you. He would have liked to be in bed." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. disappeared as the runner. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. The other appeared startled. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. he supposed--on the school clock. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. but he could not run. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. at Wrykyn. He left his cover. he was evidently possessed of a key. shoot up the water-pipe once more. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. but Time. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. looking out on to the cricket field. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. and so to bed. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. They passed the gate and went on down the road. as Mike. A sound of panting was borne to him. increasing his girth. He ran on. turned aside. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. turned into the road that led to the school. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. The pursuer had given the thing up. He would wait till a quarter past. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase.was a man of many fine qualities. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. instead of making for the pavilion. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. with the sergeant panting in his wake. Then the sound of footsteps returning. but. Meanwhile. if that was out of the question.

Adair rode off. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. So long. Downing emerged from his gate. was now standing at his front gate. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. "I'm going for the doctor. One of the chaps in our house is bad. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. But Mr. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. conveyed to him by Adair. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. was disturbed in his mind. He would be safe now in trying for home again. and Mr. three doughnuts. two ices. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. All that was wrong with MacPhee."What are you doing out here. The school clock struck the quarter. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. with a cry of "Is that you. as a matter of fact. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. whistling between his teeth. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. He was off like an . Downing. Now it happened that Mr. therefore. an apple. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. and a pound of cherries. that MacPhee. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. aroused from his first sleep by the news. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. half a cocoa-nut. waiting for Adair's return. Adair?" The next moment Mr. at a range of about two yards." Mike turned away. After a moment's pause. It came about. He walked in that direction. that Mike. and. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. was a very fair stomach-ache. and washing the lot down with tea. Jackson?" "What are you." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. Mr. escaped and rushed into the road. whoever he was. "Dear me!" he said." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. A big boy. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. taking advantage of the door being open. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. He had a cold in the head.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. who." "No." said Mr. no." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. on the other hand. "He--he--_what_. He did not want to smile. you say?" "Very big. instead of running about the road. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. he went straight to the headmaster. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. The headmaster. It was not his ." Mr. The Head. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red. in spite of his strict orders. Mr. Downing. only. was not in the best of tempers. He received the housemaster frostily. I suppose not. "One of the boys at the school. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. deeply interested. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. did want to smile. Downing. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. you think?" "I am certain of it. he wanted revenge.

whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. It was only . of Outwood's. but without result. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. I think. Mr. who. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. and passed it on to Mr. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. with the exception of Johnson III. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. Oh yes." "Impossible. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth." Which he did." Mr. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. Downing. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. unidentified. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. Downing was not listening. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. gave him a most magnificent start. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. at the time. Downing. the rest was comparatively easy. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. if he wanted the criminal discovered. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy.. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Downing as they walked back to lunch. and Mr. as far as I understand. Outwood who helped him. and Fate. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. not to mention cromlechs. he would have to discover him for himself. Downing. It was Mr. "Not actually in. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. Outwood. had seen. broke into a wild screech of laughter. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. Downing was left with the conviction that. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily.

'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. sir. sergeant?" "No. Regardless of the claims of digestion. Oo-oo-oo. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. which the latter was about to do unasked." he said. and I doubles after 'im prompt. I did. Mr." he said. sir. sir--spotted 'im. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run." "Ah!" . I am. In due course Mr. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. as a blind man could have told.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. sir. Feeflee good at spottin'. he used to say. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. sir. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move." admitted the sergeant reluctantly.' he used to say. "I did. but it finishes in time. in order to ensure privacy. Downing. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. "Mr. Downing arrived. sir. Outwood. sergeant." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. sir. yer." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. yer young monkey. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. Downing stated his case. found himself at liberty. "Did you catch sight of his face. "Oo-oo-oo. Having requested his host to smoke. he rushed forth on the trail. Dinner was just over when Mr. Dook of Connaught. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. "tells me that last night. ejecting the family. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end.

"Good-afternoon. Very hot to-day. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. rested his feet on the table." "Pray do not move. sir. rubbing the point in. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead.C. while Sergeant Collard. "Well. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. and exhibited clearly. and slept the sleep of the just. to a very large extent. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." he said. success in the province of detective work must always be. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. sir." "Good-afternoon to you. but it was a dark night. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. Good afternoon. "I will find my way out. having requested Mrs. The school plays the M.C." And Mr. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. sergeant. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." "I hope not. sir. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr."Bare-'eaded. if he persisted in making so much noise. put a handkerchief over his face." Mr. Outwood's house." added the sergeant. sergeant. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. 'cos yer see. . Collard to take the children out for a walk at once." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. sir. Downing rose to go. on Wednesday." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. and dusted. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. sergeant. the result of luck. with a label attached. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. sir. Downing went out into the baking sunlight." "So do I.

"Sir. but. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Outwood's house. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. Mr. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. his sympathy for Dr. But if ever the emergency does arise. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. All these things passed through Mr. this time in the shape of Riglett. tight-lipped smiles. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. If you go to a boy and say. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. to detect anybody. Probably. We should simply have hung around. It is practically Stalemate. What he wanted was a clue. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. but. now that he had started to handle his own first case. As he brooded over the case in hand. shouting to him to pick them up. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. he thought. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. if he only knew. even and. only a limited number of boys in Mr. it would have complicated matters. It certainly was uncommonly hard.The average man is a Doctor Watson." the boy does not reply. but even if there had been only one other. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. Watson increased with every minute. and his methods. a junior member of his house. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. as a matter of fact. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. unless you knew who had really done the crime. and leaves the next move to you. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . Mr. requested that way peculiar to some boys. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. there were clues lying all over the place. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. of course. just as the downtrodden medico did. how--?" and all the rest of it. There were. saying: "My dear Holmes. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. having capped Mr. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. when Fate once more intervened. we should have been just as dull ourselves.

Paint. The sound recalled Mr. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. however. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. Mr. Yoicks! There were two things. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Riglett. Your careful detective must consider everything." he said. Downing remembered. Downing saw it. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. A foot-mark. Mr. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. but just a mess. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. and he is a demon at the game. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Watson could not have overlooked." Riglett. walking delicately through dry places. he saw the clue. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. "Pah!" said Mr. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. "and be careful where you tread. He felt for his bunch of keys. Downing to mundane matters. stood first on his left foot. and finally remarked. Then suddenly. beneath the disguise of the mess. "Get your bicycle. extracted his bicycle from the rack. And this was a particularly messy mess. What he saw at first was not a Clue. Downing. now coughed plaintively. It was the ground-man's paint.bicycle from the shed. and made his way to the shed. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. to be considered. then on his right. The air was full of the pungent scent. Downing. leaving Mr. blushed. Downing. Red paint. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Then Mr. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. In the first place. Much thinking had made him irritable. Watson a fair start. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. Give Dr. A foot-mark! No less. Downing unlocked the door. Mr. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr.

You did not do that. sir. He rapped at the door of the first." he said. sir. "No. He could get the ground-man's address from him. and the ground-man came out in . Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. but I could show you in a second. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. Adair." "I see. I shall be able to find them." "It is spilt all over the floor. on the right as you turn out into the road. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. don't get up. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. on returning to the house. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. Thank you. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. "Oh. Adair. Oh. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. Quite so. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. There are three in a row. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. by the way." "Thank you. Adair. There's a barn just before you get to them. His book had been interesting. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. that there was paint on his boots. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. I suppose. His is the first you come to. I didn't go into the shed at all. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. Things were moving.

with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. too. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . and spilt. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed." Mr. Picture. sir? No. An excellent idea. The thing had become simple to a degree. sir?" "No. Markby. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. ascertain its owner. Just as I thought. as was indeed the case. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. sir. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window." "Do you want it. He was hot on the scent now. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. Outwood's house somewhere. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. thank you." "Just so. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. You had better get some more to-morrow. and denounce him to the headmaster. blinking as if he had just woke up. yes. Quite so. The fact is. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Thank you. Tell me. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. thank you. sir. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot." "On the floor?" "On the floor. On the shelf at the far end. with the result that it has been kicked over. Markby. Makes it look shabby.his shirt-sleeves. That is all I wished to know. sir. All he had to do was to go to Mr." "Of course. no. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. It was Sunday. Markby. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. It wanted a lick of paint bad. sir. "Oh. Regardless of the heat.

so he merely inclined his head gracefully. as he passed." "'Tis well. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing." snapped Mr.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. "What the dickens. That is to say. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room." said Mike disparagingly." murmured Psmith courteously. "Enough of this spoolery." said he. found Mr. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. sir. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. and said nothing. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. Outwood. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. Downing arrived." said Psmith. Smith. "Or shall I fetch Mr. What brings him round in this direction." Mike walked on towards the field. "There's a kid in France. no matter. and Psmith." "With acute pleasure. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. sir. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. who had just entered the house. sir?" "Do as I tell you. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. "I was an ass ever to try it. Downing." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. He is welcome to them." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. . I wonder! Still. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time." said Mike. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. "A warm afternoon. I will be with you in about two ticks.

An airy room. then moved on. Each boy. An idea struck the master. . That's further down the passage." said Psmith. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master." he said. sir. crimson in the face with the exercise. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough." said Psmith. "The studies. Psmith waited patiently by. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. Mr. baffled. Mr. Smith. "This. The matron being out. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. Downing rose. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper." Mr. sir. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Downing paused. "Is this impertinence studied. sir? No. "Aha!" said Psmith. Downing stopped short. "I think he's out in the field. panting slightly." Mr. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. sir." said Mr. "Show me the next dormitory. "Excuse me. Downing nodded. I understand." They moved on up the passage. sir." he cried. This is Barnes'. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. but went down to the matron's room. Here we have----" Mr. "Here. having examined the last bed. Smith. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. sir." "I was only wondering. Downing looked at him closely. "to keep your remarks to yourself. sir?" he asked. The master snorted suspiciously. "Are you looking for Barnes. Downing with asperity. opening a door. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. "I beg your pardon. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. "Shall I lead the way.Psmith said no more. It is Mr. Mr. The observation escaped me unawares. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Smith." said Psmith. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. "we have Barnes' dormitory.

Smith?" "Jackson." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes. sir. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. sir. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze." "Ah! Thank you. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr." "I think. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. Downing suddenly started." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. "This. Downing raked the room with a keen eye." Mr. even in the dusk. "Have you no bars to your windows here. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. sir?" said Psmith. sir. that Mr. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." "Never mind about his cricket. Smith. "A lovely view. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. rapping a door. "The trees." "Not at all. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. Downing pondered. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. the distant hills----" Mr. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. No. And. the field. sir. Downing with irritation. sir." said Mr." Mr."Whose is this?" he asked. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. sir." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. sir." said Psmith. sir. is it not. The cricketer. is mine and Jackson's. they go out extremely quickly. putting up his eyeglass. Smith. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. "No.

* * * * * He staggered back with the basket. If he had been wise." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. sir. Downing stooped eagerly over it. he rushed straight on. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. prompting these manoeuvres. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. "I should say at a venture. I believe. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. Smith?" "Not one. Such a moment came to Mr. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. sir? He has them on. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up." said Psmith affably. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. our genial knife-and-boot boy. he would have achieved his object. "go and bring that basket to me here. "His boots. and dumped is down on the study floor. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. As it was. by a devious and snaky route. and bent once more to his task." he said. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. I noticed them as he went out just his life. sir. Downing knelt on the floor beside . Downing. "We have here. "Smith!" he said excitedly. at early dawn." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. that they would be in the basket downstairs. he did not know. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. Edmund. Mr. Mr. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. Psmith had noticed. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. Boots flew about the room. collects them. sir. sir. sir--no. Psmith leaned against the wall. But that there was something. trembling with excitement. and straightened out the damaged garment. he was certain." "Smith. Downing looked up. Downing then." said Mr. "On the spot." Mr. "a fair selection of our various bootings. It was a fine performance." Mr. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded.

You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. The headmaster was in his garden. "No. and doing so. boot-maker. Smith. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Leave the basket here. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. of course. Psmith took the boot. "Yes. with an exclamation of triumph. I shall take this with me." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. You can carry it back when you return. . sir.the basket. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. "Put those back again. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." "Shall I carry it. of course. might be a trifle undignified. on the following day. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. rising. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. Downing had finished." "Come with me. He knew nothing." "Shall I put back that boot. Smith. After a moment Psmith followed him. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. It was "Brown. when Mr. Thither Mr. The ex-Etonian." he said. Downing reflected. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. rose to his feet. "I think it would be best. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. and when. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. "Indeed?" he said." he said. At last he made a dive. "That's the lot. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. Downing made his way. carrying a dirty boot. "Ah. In his hand he held a boot." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. Downing. sir?" Mr. Bridgnorth." as he did so. and. sir?" "Certainly not." he said. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. then. sir. understood what before had puzzled him. Downing left the room. Psmith looked at it again. one puts two and two together." Mr. began to pick up the scattered footgear.

the cynosure of all eyes. I brought it on purpose to show to you. sir. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. Of any suspicion of paint. I saw it with my own eyes. putting on a pair of look at--This. Mr. sir. I fancy. Just Mr. er. Mr. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. "There was paint on this boot. Mr. Downing. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. There was no paint on this boot. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. putting up his eyeglass. not uncommon. "now let me so. Downing was the first to break the silence. Psmith. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah." said the headmaster. Downing. red or otherwise." "This is foolery. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me." said Psmith chattily.. "You must have made a mistake. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. fixed stare. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. Smith. These momentary optical delusions are. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. you say." he said vehemently. "who was remarkably subject----" . Just. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. this boot with exactly where Mr. It was a broad splash right across the toe. Smith will bear me out in this..." The headmaster interposed. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. is the--? Just so. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. But.

consequently." said the headmaster. "that is surely improbable. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. streaming in through the window. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. sir?" said Psmith. sir?" . Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. sir. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint." "It is undoubtedly black now." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. Downing shortly. Shall I take the boot with me." "Really. The afternoon sun. Smith." said Psmith with benevolent approval. Downing. if I may----?" "Certainly. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. Downing. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. Downing looked searchingly at him. I can assure you that it does not brush off. "What did you say. Smith. Downing recollects. "Well. Mr. sir. The picture on the retina of the eye." said Mr." said Psmith. Smith." "Exactly. The goaded housemaster turned on him." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. Smith?" "Did I speak." said the headmaster." "You are very right." "Yes. sir. I cannot have been mistaken. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. had not time to fade. Downing. is that Mr. "My theory. with simple dignity. Mr. I remember thinking myself. If Mr. sir. "You had better be careful. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. sir. "My theory. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. at the moment. really. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." murmured Psmith. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance." "I am reading it. "for pleasure. "May I go now." "A sort of chameleon boot. Mr." said Psmith. he did not look long at the boot."It is absurd.

and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. "That thing." ." he said. and lock the cupboard. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before." he said to himself approvingly. and Mr. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. Smith. Psmith and Mike. where are we? In the soup."If Mr. Psmith. "Brain. he reflected. On arriving at the study. On this occasion. "Put that thing away. and the latter. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. "I can manage without your help. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. Mr. with a sigh. The possibility. he raced down the road. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. every time. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. laid down his novel. was a most unusual sight. and turning in at Outwood's gate. the spectacle of Psmith running. left the garden. Put it away. if they had but known it. having included both masters in a kindly smile." he said. "Sit down. The scrutiny irritated Mr. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. Outwood's at that moment saw what. he." Psmith sat down again. hurried over to Outwood's. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass." said the housemaster. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. Without brain. Smith. sir?" "Yes. Downing was brisk and peremptory. "I wish to look at these boots again. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. and rose to assist him. Downing. in fact the probability. were friends. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. however. too. that ridiculous glass. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. Downing appeared.

He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while." "I was interested in what you were doing." "Thank you. and his chin on his hands." . This cupboard. Downing rapped the door irritably." "Never mind. but each time without success. He rested his elbows on his knees. sir?" asked Psmith. "Don't sit there staring at me. on sight. We do not often use it. and Mr. who. The floor could be acquitted. sir. sir. Nothing of value or interest. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way." "May I read."Why. after fidgeting for a few moments. There was very little cover there. Downing. now thoroughly irritated. His eye roamed about the room. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. He went through it twice. After the second search. "Smith!" he said. "Yes. Smith." "I think you will find that it is locked. lodged another complaint. A ball of string." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket." Psmith took up his book again. Possibly an old note-book. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. sir?" "Yes. "Yes. patiently." "Open it. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. of harbouring the quarry." Mr. sir. read if you like. and looked wildly round the room. "Just a few odd trifles. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so." "I guessed that that was the reason. sir. sir. he stood up. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. perhaps.

in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. Outwood. perhaps----! On the other hand. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. Outwood. Downing stared. "go and find Mr. "I don't believe a word of it. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr." Mr." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. sir." he said shortly. He also reflected. I am only the acting manager. If you wish to break it open." "But where is the key. And he knew that. sir. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place." Mr. Smith?" he inquired acidly."Unlock it. "Yes. And I know it's not Mr. Outwood. staring into vacancy." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me." he said. Then he was seized with a happy idea. sir. "Smith. sir. and ask him to be good . "Are you aware whom you are talking to. Downing thought for a moment. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard." Mr. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. I shall break open the door." Psmith got up. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. Jackson might have taken it. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. amazed. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. Smith would be alone in the room. Downing paused. you must get his permission. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. if Smith were left alone in the room. Mr.

"Do you intend to disobey me. "Yes. If you will go to Mr. sir. 'Mr. His manner was almost too respectful. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture." "one cannot. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. "I take my stand. One cannot. But in Mr. Downing's voice was steely. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. and explain to him how matters stand. who resumed the conversation." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. Outwood at once. "Go and find Mr. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. sir.enough to come here for a moment. I say to myself." he said. Smith?" Mr." Psmith still made no move. to take a parallel case. as who should say. "Thwarted to me face. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Outwood. ha." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Smith." he said." "What!" "Yes. I ought to have remembered that before. If you pressed a button. I would do the rest. Outwood's house. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. your word would be law. however." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. "_Quick_. Mr. "Let us be reasonable." he continued. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. and come back and say to me. Outwood. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . So in my case. Mr. sir. 'Psmith. "If you will let me explain. "on a technical point. Smith. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. I would fly to do your bidding.

"But. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. and. You see my difficulty. "Where have you been. Downing sharply. and washed off the soot." why he should not do so if he wishes it. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. there will be a boot there when you return. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. Smith. Smith." "My dear Outwood. Outwood. Downing stalked out of the room. and let the boot swing free. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. at any blackening his hand. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. and took out the boot. and with him Mr. when it had stopped swinging. Placing this in the cupboard. "Smith. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. I shall not tell you again. as the footsteps died away. he went to the window. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. When he returned. Smith?" asked Mr. Downing wishes me to do. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. A shower of soot fell into the grate. sir. "I have been washing my hands. and thrust it up the chimney. Outwood with spirit." added Psmith pensively to himself. Outwood. Downing suspiciously. Then he turned to the boot. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Outwood. unlocked the cupboard." added Mr. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. He tied the other end of the string to this." He took the key from his pocket." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve." Mr. "Very well. Mr. He noticed with approval. he re-locked the door. Downing was in the study. sir. He went there. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill." "I can assure you." snapped the sleuth." said Mr. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face." "H'm!" said Mr. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. "Yes.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. the latter looking dazed. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr." .

glaring at Psmith." said Psmith sympathetically. Mr. "I told you. Outwood. He never used them. "to be free from paint. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door. sir. "Objection? None at all. "I told you. "Why?" "I don't know why. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. Downing was examining his find. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Downing shortly. "You have touched the spot. and painted my dog Sampson red. with any skeletons it might contain. round-eyed. The cupboard. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. Downing seized one of these. Then. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. was open for all to view. Now. Last night a boy broke out of your house. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This." said Psmith. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. and tore the boot from its resting-place." "If I must explain again. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now." he added helpfully. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . my dear Outwood." "It certainly appears." said Mr. none at all. Outwood." "He painted--!" said Mr. Smith?" "I must have done."Exactly. "Did you place that boot there. Mr. he did. my dear fellow. At any rate. if you look at it sideways. Psmith'a expression said. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Outwood started. Have you any objection?" Mr. "This is not the boot. "I've been looking for it for days." "I wondered where that boot had got to. "We must humour him. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. approvingly. sir." "So with your permission. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Outwood with asperity. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. The wood splintered. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. do you understand?" Mr." said Psmith. Let me see. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. belonging to Mike." Mr." he said." he said. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. Downing?" interrupted Mr. "This boot has no paint on it.

from earth to heaven. Apply them. Downing laughed grimly. Mr. sir. and a thrill went through him." he said. Smith." "It's been great fun. and one could imagine him giving Mr. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush. Smith?" he asked slowly. "Ah. once more. He bent down to "Dear me. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. "We all make mistakes." "No. Downing's eye. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. sir. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. Smith. A little more. hard knock.") Mr." said Psmith patiently. "Animal spirits. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. he used the sooty hand.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze." he said. Outwood off his feet. "WHAT!" . You were not quite clever enough." Mr. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. though. my dear Watson. nearly knocking Mr. He looked up." argued Psmith. It should have been done before. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot." said Psmith." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. sir. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. Outwood had the grate. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. SMITH?"] "Yes. but he ignored it. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. "I thought as much. Unfortunately. Downing a good. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. Downing. after all. sir. not to have given me all this trouble. baffled." "You would have done better. You have done yourself no good by it. "Fun!" Mr.

Mr. but on the whole it had been worth it. Outwood. he went up to the study again. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. "My dear Downing. . Mr. Edmund. soap." said Psmith. "I say you will hear more of it. Having restored the basket to its proper place. Smith. It would take a lot of cleaning. at about the same height where Mr. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. * * * * * When they had gone. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. It had been trying. positively." he said. It is positively covered with soot. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. In the language of the Ring. of course." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. you present a most curious appearance. far from the madding crowd. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. sir. You must come and wash it. You are quite black. intervened." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. my dear fellow. worked in some mysterious cell. His fears were realised. accordingly. though one can guess roughly. for a man of refinement. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. "your face. the boot-boy. and sponges. "You will hear more of this. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. he saw. Psmith went to the window. He went down beneath it. Downing had found the other. For." Then he allowed Mr. quite covered." What Mr. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. sir. until he should have thought out a scheme. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. at the back of the house. and it had cut into his afternoon. The boot-cupboard was empty. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. and hauled in the string. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. most. as he had said. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. It was the knock-out. just as he was opening his mouth. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. It seemed to him that. Let me show you the way to my room. he took the count." he said. Really. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it."Animal spirits. and it was improbable that Mr. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. for the time being.

There was nothing. Mr. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves." he said. But. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. but. to be gained from telling Mike. "One? What's the good of that. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise." Edmund turned this over in his mind. the thing creates a perfect sensation. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. "No. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. thank goodness. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. he should not wear shoes. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. should he prefer them. for instance. I can still understand sound reasoning. Jackson. Boys say. "Jones. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. There is no real reason why. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. Psmith was no exception to the rule. "Well. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. It was not altogether forgetfulness. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. Mr. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. Edmund. which one observes naturally and without thinking. sir. "'Ere's one of 'em. there's the bell. Jackson. if the day is fine. "I may have lost a boot. So in the case of boots." "Well. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. "Great Scott. he thought. So Psmith kept his own counsel. I mean--Oh. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. and then said. dash it. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. At a school. if he does." replied Edmund to both questions." as much as to say. had no views on the subject. Edmund.

"_What_ are you wearing on your feet. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. of a vivid crimson. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. and the subsequent proceedings. looking on them. accordingly. with a few exceptions. as worms.. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Satire. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. leaning back against the next row of desks. was taken unawares. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne." mechanically. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. But. They cannot see it. had regarded Mike with respect.. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. Then. Downing who gave trouble. sir. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. but they feel it in their bones. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. turning to Stone. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. lines. Jackson?" "Pumps. It was only Mr. He said "Yes. "I have lost one of my boots. accompanying the act with some satirical remark." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. or else to pull one of them off. He waged war remorselessly against shoes." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. as he usually did. yes. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. he told him to start translating. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. sir?" said Mike. sir. Downing's lips. and the form. Mr. Downing. abuse. Mr. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. "Yes. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes.. called his name." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . Mike. On one occasion. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. and finally "That will do. he floundered hopelessly. stiffening like a pointer. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. Stone.

match on the Wednesday. gnawing his bun. sir. yawning and heavy-eyed. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it. Downing feel at that moment. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. "I don't intend to stick it. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. it is no joke taking a high catch.C. "It's all rot. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop.C. "Wal. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. and sped to the headmaster. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. They played well enough when on the field. I mean. Mike himself. and had caught catches and fielded drives which.returned. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. compared with Mike's. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. Rushing about on an empty stomach." said Robinson. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. Mike's appearance in shoes. His case was complete." "Personally. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. to wit. said. Downing's mind was in a whirl. and the first American interviewer. in the cool morning air." . In view of the M. jumping on board. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. he gathered up his gown. and no strain. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. completed the chain. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. Until the sun has really got to work." said Stone. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. consequently. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. As a rule. came to a momentous decision. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. however. that searching test of cricket keenness. which nobody objects to. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents." said Stone." "I shouldn't wonder. and all that sort of thing. Mr. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice.

" "I don't think he will kick us out. The result of all this was that Adair. The majority. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. wherever and however made."Nor do I. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs." "All right. At breakfast that morning thought. You were rotten to-day." Their position was a strong one. Taking it all round. "He can do what he likes about it. and. found himself two short. With the majority." And he passed on. leaving the two malcontents speechless. and the chance of making runs greater. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. questioned on the subject. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . Mr. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. it's such absolute rot. practically helpless. Besides. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. unless he is a man of action. he'd better find somebody else. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school." he said briskly. Stone was the first to recover. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind.C. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. Barnes. Which was not a great help. Downing. the keenness of those under him. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. "Let's. who his right.C. you know. "at six. then he finds himself in a difficult position. Barnes was among those present. with a scratch team." At this moment Adair came into the shop." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. after all? Only kick us out of the team. as they left the shop. consequently. either. Stone and Robinson felt secure. If he does. had no information to give. He can't play the M. but in reality he has only one weapon." "I mean. what can he do. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. are easily handled. And I don't mind that. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay." said Robinson. You two must buck up. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for." he said." "Nor do I. of course." "Yes. "Rather.

He never shirked anything." Robinson laughed appreciatively. however. who left the lead to Stone in all matters. "We didn't turn up." "Oh?" "Yes. said nothing. "Sorry. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty." said Stone. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. "You were rather fed-up." "Sorry it bored you. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. To-day. We didn't give it the chance to. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. Adair!" "Don't mention it. Stone spoke." he said. not having seen the paper. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. "We decided not to.daily paper before the bell rang. Many captains might have passed the thing over. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. "Hullo. He resolved to interview the absentees. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself." Adair's manner became ominously calm. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. who. "I know you didn't. physical or moral." "It didn't. I suppose?" "That's just the word. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. .

Robinson?" asked Adair. "There's no joke." "You don't think there is? You may be right. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." said Stone." "That'll be a disappointment." said Robinson." Stone intervened. "Right. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes."What's the joke. All the same. Adair. Adair had pushed the table back." said Adair quietly. Nor Robinson?" "No. and was standing in the middle of the open space. Shall we go on?" . You must see that you can't do anything." "What!" "Six sharp. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. I'll give you till five past six. We've told you we aren't going to. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. Of course. We'll play for the school all right. if you like. you are now. "You cad." "I'll give you something else to think about soon." "That's only your opinion." said the junior partner in the firm. and knocked him down. Adair." "Well. you're going to to-morrow morning." "You can turn out if you feel like it." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No." "Don't be an ass. He was up again in a moment." "Good. with some haste. as you seem to like lying in bed. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. "It's no good making a row about it." said Stone. "I was only thinking of something. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. but we don't care if you do. Don't be late. So we're all right. "I wasn't ready. You won't find me there. but he said it without any deep conviction. I think you are. you can kick us out of the team. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort.

Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain." said Adair." Stone made no reply. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table." said Stone. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. even in a confined space. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. and it did not take him long to make up his mind." he said hastily. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. "Thanks. "I'll turn up.Stone dashed in without a word. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . But science tells. I don't know if he's still there. but he was cooler and quicker." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. "All right." "I'll go and see. "All right. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone." "Good. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy." said Adair. "Thanks. "You don't happen to know if he's in. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. How about you." said Adair. and he knew more about the game. He was not altogether a coward. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show.

This was one of them. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. was off. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. If only he could have been there to help. which had been ebbing during the past few days. entered the room. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. and went on reading. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. Which. the fast bowler. He's had a . that Adair. fortunately. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. Altogether. returned with a rush.on below stairs. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable." he said. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. In school cricket one good batsman. The Ripton match. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. In fact. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. And it was at this point. Psmith was the first to speak. The Incogs. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. looking up from his paper. The M. was hard lines on Ripton. Mike mourned over his suffering school. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. It might have made all the difference.C. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. said Strachan. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. "If you ask my candid opinion. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. everything had gone wrong. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. wrote Strachan. A broken arm. * * * * * Psmith. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. led by Mike's brother Reggie. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. including Dixon. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. when his resentment was at its height. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms.C. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket.. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. Since this calamity.

" "Fate. We must Do It Now. go thee. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. knave. The fact that the M." . "We weren't exactly idle. sitting before you. "Surely. is waiting there with a sandbag. We must hustle. "is right." "That. which might possibly be made dear later. We would brood. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece." he said. too." he sighed. "Certainly. Stone chucked it after the first round. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. For some reason.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight." said Psmith approvingly. Adair. "There are lines on my face. This is no time for loitering." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. I thought that you and he were like brothers. He could not quite follow what all this was about." said Adair. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner." said Psmith. Adair was looking for trouble. I'll none of thee. but it was pretty lively while it did. "I'm not the man I was. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. Speed is the key-note of the present age. Promptitude. Oh. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it." Mike got up out of his chair. "It didn't last long." said Adair grimly. It won't take long.C." said Adair. the poacher. We must be strenuous." "What do you want?" said Mike. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. dark circles beneath my eyes. Care to see the paper. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." said Psmith. "has led your footsteps to the right place. That is Comrade Jackson. Shakespeare. after a prolonged inspection. We----" "Buck up. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school.C. Despatch. "I'll tell you in a minute. the Pride of the School. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit." Psmith turned away. Leave us." said Mike. I bet Long Jack.

stepped between them.said Adair. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. Mike said nothing. I know. "Oh?" said Mike at last. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." Mike remained silent." "My eyes. are you?" said Mike politely." "I don't think so." he added philosophically. Adair moved to meet him. "I get thinner and thinner. You aren't building on it much. So is Robinson. rather. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. "are a bit close together.C." added Adair. He's going to all right." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. "it's too late to alter that now. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. and Adair looked at Mike." said Psmith regretfully. turning from the glass. There was an electric silence in the study. turning to Mike. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think. Mike looked at Adair. and in that second Psmith." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M.?" he asked curiously." Mike drew a step closer to Adair." Mike took another step forward.C. "I'm going to make you. "So are you. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. isn't it?" "Very. and I want you to get some practice. to-morrow.C. . "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. However. He said he wouldn't. "I am." replied Adair with equal courtesy.C. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. so we argued it out.

The latter was a clever boxer. Are you ready. Smith. In a fight each party. one was probably warmly attached to him. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. Time. Dramatically. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. . in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. I lodge a protest. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. "The rounds. "will be of three minutes' duration. But school fights. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. I suppose you must. only a few yards down the road. Up to the moment when "time" was called. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. nothing could have prevented him winning. a mere unscientific scramble. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. producing a watch. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. In a boxing competition. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. one does not dislike one's opponent. with a minute rest in between. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. If Adair had kept away and used his head. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. Directly Psmith called "time. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. hates the other. for goodness sake do it where there's some room." he said placidly. as a rule. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. It was this that saved Mike." After which. and are consequently brief and furious. then. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well."Get out of the light. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. however much one may want to win." said Mike. On the present occasion. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. If you really feel that you want to scrap. what would have been. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition." he said. where you can scrap all night if you want to. "My dear young friends. without his guiding hand.

do you think?" asked Mike. Mike had the greater strength. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. and he was all but knocked out." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. . so he hit out with all his strength. however. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. I'll look after him. I think. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form." "Is he hurt much. after all. the deliverer of knock-out blows. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. which would do him no earthly good. Mike Jackson. he knew. I shouldn't stop. was strange to him. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. If it's going to be continued in our next. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. that Adair was done. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. "but exciting. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. and then Adair went down in a heap. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. There was a swift exchange of blows. "_He's_ all right. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. he threw away his advantages. now rendered him reckless. In the excitement of a fight--which is. that there was something to be said for his point of view." said Psmith. Jackson. The Irish blood in him. He went in at Mike with both hands. thirty seconds from the start. the cricketer. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. Psmith saw. Then he lurched forward at Mike. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. He got up slowly and with difficulty. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see.As it was. He rose full of fight. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. Mike could not see this. "Brief." said Psmith. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. and. but Jackson. The feat presented that interesting person. At the same time. coming forward. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. if I were you. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. but with all the science knocked out of him. We may take that. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. as anybody looking on would have seen. This finished Adair's chances. You go away and pick flowers.

"I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. to a certain extent. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. And as he's leaving at the end of the term." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself." "He's all right. Where." said Mike. However. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. and drained the bad blood out of him. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. not afraid of work. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. "Sha'n't play." he said. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him." said Mike indignantly. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. of course?" "Of course not. You didn't." continued Psmith.C. Jones. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. My eloquence convinced him. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. It's not a bad idea in its way. when Psmith entered the study. He had come to this conclusion. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough.C. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. before. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. if possible. As a start. He's not a bad cove. after much earnest thought. in fact. "Look here. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. Psmith straightened his tie. to return to the point under discussion. why not?" . It shook him up.The fight. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. There was a pause. but every one to his taste. had the result which most fights have. We have been chatting.' game.

Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so." "You're rotting. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces. And in time the thing becomes a habit. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. I hate to think." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. but it was useless. breathing on a coat-button. and after a while I gave up the struggle. that I had found a haven of rest. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. I turn out to-morrow. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. Comrade Jackson. where was I? Gone. when I came here. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating." said Psmith. _I_ am playing. Last year. However----" ." "----Dismiss it. "You're what? You?" "I. bar rotting. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. Smith. What Comrade Outwood will say." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. I fought against it. "If your trouble is. little by little." "No. But when the cricket season came. "my secret sorrow. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's." said Psmith. You said you only liked watching it. but it was not to be." Mike stared. I did think."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. I do. and drifted with the stream. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. and polishing it with his handkerchief. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night." "You wrong me. but look here." "Quite right." said Psmith. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered.

Anyhow. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. I'll write a note to Adair now. Close the door gently after you. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. He's not playing against the M." he said. and here was Psmith. Psmith whimsically. but he read Psmith's mind now. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. He was not by nature intuitive. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. "By Jove. Downing's and going to Adair's study." "I say. A spot of rain fell on his hand. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. it went. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow." On arriving at Mr. And they had both worked it off. Adair won't be there himself. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. Mike turned up his coat-collar." "That's all right. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. Here was he. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide.C. "there won't be a match at all . and ran back to Outwood's. You won't have to. as the storm. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. which had been gathering all day. I'll go round." he said to himself. He's sprained his wrist. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. the recalcitrant. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do. "if you're playing. Since the term began.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. I'll play. but useless to anybody who values life. Then in a flash Mike understood." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. broke in earnest. wavering on the point of playing for the school. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow.C. If Psmith. therefore. But. "At this rate. It's nothing bad." "Not a bad scheme. I don't know. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. A moment later there was a continuous patter.

Adair fished out his watch." "Beastly." Another silence. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly." "Yes. Three if one didn't hurry. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. met Adair at Downing's "Right ho!" said Adair." "Yes. if one didn't hurry. Mike. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. with discoloured buckskin boots." "So do I. though. Might be three. isn't it?" said Mike. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. after behaving well for some weeks. yes. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "Good. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion." "Oh. it does the thing thoroughly. These moments are always difficult. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. crawl miserably about the field in couples." "Yes. I should think. in the gentle." "I often do cut it rather fine. to show what it can do in another direction." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet." "I hate having to hurry over to school. They walked on in silence. while figures in mackintoshes. and then the rain began again. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness." "Beastly nuisance when one does. damp and depressed. "It's only about ten to." * * * * * When the weather decides. We've got plenty of time. . So do I. "About nine to.

rot. "Five to. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. doesn't it?" "Rotten.. that's all right." "Oh." said Mike."Beastly day. rot." "Does it hurt?" "Oh. just before the match. I say.." "Rummy. rather not." "Yes. "I don't know." "We've heaps of time. It was my fault." "Yes. Jolly hard luck. thanks awfully for saying you'd play. thanks.. with his height." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. It looks pretty bad." "Oh." said Adair. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "Oh... we ought to have a jolly good season." "Good.. probably.." "Oh.. Less." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself. no." "I bet you anything you like you would. "awfully sorry about your wrist.. You'd have smashed me anyhow. It was only right at the end. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week." "Oh. I say." "What's the time?" asked Mike. "I say. scowling at his toes." ." "I bet you I shouldn't. no." Silence again. no. Adair produced his watch once more. "Rotten. that's all right.

" "No."Yes." "No." "I didn't want to play myself." Adair shuffled awkwardly. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. for the second time in two days." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. as it were: for now. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. rotten little hole. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. I know. that's all right." "It was rotten enough. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. It was only for a bit. Everybody's as keen as blazes. Smith told me you couldn't have done. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team. I wouldn't have done it. on the Chinese principle. . after the way you've sweated. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. heaps." "Of course not. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." "Oh. no. no. isn't it?" or words to that effect. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. Mike. and come to a small school like this. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. He eluded the pitfall. I know. even if he had. "I say." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. fortunately. "Yes. So they ought to be. not playing myself." "Of course. "What rot!" he said. really. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness. and blundered into a denunciation of the place." "He never even asked me to get him a place.

I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith.C. Hullo. We'd better be moving on. and hang about in case. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. and really. lot a really good hammering. "By jove. and the bowling isn't so bad. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. My jaw still aches. now that you and Smith are turning out." said Adair. they're worse. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. I wish we could play." "It might clear before eleven. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. of anything like it. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle." said Mike. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. I'm not sure that I care much. They began to laugh. They'd simply laugh at you." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. I never thought of it before. You'd better get changed. There's quite decent batting all the way through. we'd walk into them." "What! They wouldn't play us. As for the schools." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. "_You_ were all right. who doesn't count."I've always been fairly keen on the place." "All right. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. "I can't have done. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. Dash this rain. Downing or a black-beetle. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. We sha'n't get a game to-day. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. If only we could have given this M. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. there's the bell. till the interval. I must have looked rotten. anyhow. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year." "I don't know that so much." he said. then. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. I don't know which I'd least soon be." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. so I don't see anything of him all day. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. at the interval. You see." ." Mike stopped.C. when you get to know him. I've never had the gloves on in my life." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. "if that's any comfort to you. with you and Smith. with a grin. We've got math. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. As you're crocked. we've got a jolly hot lot. because I'm certain. which won't hurt me.

'" ."Yes. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. That's the worst of being popular. You come and have a shot. approaching Adair.C." he said at last. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. captain. with a message that Mr. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. The two teams. "By Jove. had not confided in him. and went off. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. The whisper flies round the clubs. To which Adair. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. M. wandering back to the house. Downing. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. If he wants you to stop to tea." said Psmith. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. leaving Psmith. Mike and Psmith. without looking up. I had a letter from Strachan. he worked at it both in and out of school. if you like. and would be glad if Mike would step across. 'Psmith is baffled.C.C. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. edge away. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. For the moment I am baffled. "A nuisance. the captain. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. Meanwhile. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house." Mike changed quickly. I'm pretty sure they would. they would. "this incessant demand for you. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. At least. So they've got a vacant date. was agitated. The messenger did not know. yesterday. after hanging about dismally. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. After which the M. regretfully agreed. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. match was accordingly scratched. Mr. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. and the first Sedleigh _v_. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. it seemed. We'll smash them." said Psmith. Mike. And they aren't strong this year.C.

But." "I know. As far as I can see." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. dash it. "Which it was. I believe he's off his nut." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore." said Mike shortly." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act." said Psmith. by the way?" asked Psmith. "My dear man. pretty nearly. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened." "_Did_ you. . he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. The thing's a stand-off."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." said Mike warmly. He as good as asked me to." "He thinks I did it. "No." "Evidence!" said Mike. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. you know all about that." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. Give you a nice start in life. "Me. "I didn't. he's been crawling about. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday.

" said Psmith. Psmith listened attentively. but one's being soled. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. it was like this. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. That's how he spotted me. Of course I've got two pairs.Why. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. meaning to save you unpleasantness." said Mike. "Say on!" "Well." "It is true. if any." he said mournfully. right in the cart. Be a man. I have landed you." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. . with a dull. 'tis not blood. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. sickening thud." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. In my simple zeal. and glared at it. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. kneeling beside the fender and groping. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. But what makes him think that the boot. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show. It is red paint. and is hiding it somewhere. It must have been the paint-pot." "Yes. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. so he thinks it's me. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. and reach up the chimney. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. "Comrade Jackson." Psmith sighed. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me." said Psmith. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. "your boot. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it." said Psmith." "I don't know what the game is. "It _is_. you were with him when he came and looked for them. Get it over. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. and it's nowhere about.

" said Mike. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. too. which was me. You never know. I take it. are the same. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward." "_He'll_ want you to confess. I hadn't painted his bally dog. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. You had better put the case in my hands. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. taking it all round. in a moment of absent-mindedness. So. Masters are all whales on confession. "It _is_ a tightish place. too. That was why I rang the alarm bell." Psmith pondered. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. by any chance." "Sufficient. then. he must take steps. they're bound to guess why. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. If I can't produce this boot. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. when Mike had finished." he admitted. that was about all. then." "Well. I suppose not. and I said I didn't care. and--well. I will think over the matter." "Possibly. and try to get something out of me. or some rot." he said. you see. Downing chased me that night. that he is now on the war-path. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. This needs thought. I say. The worst of it is." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. and forgot all about it? No? No. in connection with this painful affair. and the chap who painted Sammy. was it?" "Yes." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. you can't prove an alibi. "quite sufficient." "What exactly." "Probably. collecting a gang. You see. inspecting it with disfavour." "I suppose not. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. so to speak. I hope you'll be able to think of something. I shall get landed both ways." said Psmith. I can't. and he said very well." . I _am_ in the cart." asked Psmith. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. "Not for a pretty considerable time."This.

heaved himself up again. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. You can't beat it. sir. he allowed Mike to go on his way. "Is Mr. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. and. Thence. "Well. "that Mr." said Mike to Psmith. Come in. The postman was at the door when he got there. at the same dignified rate of progress." said Psmith." With which expert advice. He was. "Tell Willie. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner." said Psmith encouragingly. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. "An excellent likeness. sir. Simply stick to stout denial. it seemed. Jackson.There was a tap at the door. Smith. Downing." said Psmith. He had not been gone two minutes. answered the invitation. when Psmith. . "See how we have trained them. Don't go in for any airy explanations. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. Downing which hung on the wall. I say. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid." The emissary departed." said Mr. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting." suggested Psmith. Jackson will be with him in a moment." he added." he said. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog." A small boy. "_You're_ all right." "I told you so. who had leaned back in his chair. who had just been told it was like his impudence." said Psmith. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. "Don't go. and requested to wait. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. passed away. Downing shortly. "Oh. caught sight of him. wrapped in thought. "Tell him to write. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Stout denial is the thing. when the housemaster came in. "They now knock before entering." "Ha!" said Mr." He turned to the small boy. He was examining a portrait of Mr." Mike got up. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. "All this is very trying.

Downing had laid before him. The atmosphere was heavy. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. He could not believe it. "but----" "Not at all. sir. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. As for Psmith . unsupported by any weighty evidence. It was a kid's trick. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door."I did it. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Jackson." said Mr. Downing. Downing to see you. Mr. what it got was the dramatic interruption. As it happened. who committed the--who painted my dog. do not realise this. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. and the headmaster. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. It was a boy in the same house." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. as he sat and looked at Mike." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. A voice without said. Downing. Smith. "I do not think you fully realise. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. Masters." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. but anybody. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. "Mr. "I would not have interrupted you. felt awkward. it was not Jackson. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. After the first surprise. but boys nearly always do. The headmaster was just saying. would have thought it funny at first. "No. as a rule. except possibly the owner of the dog. sir." said Psmith. especially if you really are innocent.

"Certainly. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. tell Smith that I should like to see him. Well." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. with calm triumph. hardly listening to what Mr. Downing leaped in his chair. "May I go. Mike felt. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. who was nodding from time to time. no. "Adair!" . All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. Downing. "Come in. Adair. and er--. "Yes. sir. looking at Mr. sir. sir. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. So Mr. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. certainly. as if he had been running. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. This was bound to mean the sack." said Mr. Mike simply did not believe it. "Ah. "Oh. Jackson. Downing----" "It was Dunster. or even thankful. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge." "No. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this." he said. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. if you are going back to your house. It was Adair. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. we know--. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Mr. Downing was saying. He sat there. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Mr. when again there was a knock. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant." said the headmaster. "Smith!" said the headmaster. sir. sir?" he said. He did not make friends very quickly or easily." He had reached the door. what did you wish to say. Downing.having done it." "Yes." "It wasn't Jackson who did it. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Adair. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. if possible." said the Head.

sir. and that. sir. "Adair!" "Yes. Downing. Downing had gone over to see you. sir." "I see. His brain was swimming. but he wasn't in the house. in the words of an American author. Downing. sir. "Yes. that Psmith. Then I met Smith outside the house. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. was curious. He stopped the night in the village. had left the school at Christmas. sir. had played a mean trick on him. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. "Yes." said the headmaster. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. I'd better tell Mr. was guiltless. sir. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. should be innocent. sir." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. It was a . and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. and he told me that Mr.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. He rolled about. Downing snorted. But that Adair should inform him. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. perhaps." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed." "Smith told you?" said Mr. Downing at once. despite the evidence against him. who. He has left the school. And why. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. sir. of all people? Dunster. sir. That Mike." Mr. I tried to find Mr. if Dunster had really painted the dog. "But Adair. for a rag--for a joke. The situation had suddenly become too much for him." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. he remembered dizzily. Well. too." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. two minutes after Mr. Downing's voice was thunderous." "_Laughed!_" Mr. but not particularly startling. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. Why Dunster. the dog.

" said the headmaster. sir. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. Downing. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. I suppose. sir. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. . discreditable thing to have done." "H'm. pressing a bell. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. the silence was quite solid. Barlow." he observed. but." "Another freak of Dunster's. "Mr. while it lasted. Ask him to step up. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. as the butler appeared. though sure of his welcome." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. If he did not do it. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. but slightly deprecating. The door was opened." "The sergeant." "In the hall!" "Yes. Adair. sir." said Mr. "It is still raining." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner. Downing. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. He was cheerful. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. Smith. He gave the impression of one who." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. Smith is waiting in the hall. sir?" "Sit down." "Thank you. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. saying that he would wait. "I shall write to him. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs." said the headmaster." "Yes. It was not long. sir. He arrived soon after Mr." he said. Mr. "kindly go across to Mr.foolish. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. sir. Barlow. Outwood's house. "You wished to see me." said Mr." "If you please. Smith. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. sir.

Psmith bent forward encouragingly. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. "It is remarkable. Mr. Downing burst out." "Yes. do you remember ever having had. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly." he replied sadly. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. but have you--er. When he and Psmith were alone. "I should like to see you alone for a moment." proceeded Psmith placidly." he said. there was silence. He paused again." ." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. sir. as a child. sir. let us say.Mr. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. "Smith. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted." "But. sir. "Er--Smith. Then he went on. "The craze for notoriety." "What!" cried the headmaster." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. "Er--Smith. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. "how frequently. Jackson. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. "Smith. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. "Smith. "The curse of the present age. when a murder has been committed. Smith--" began the headmaster. sir." He made a motion towards the door. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities.

sir. We later. at last. Smith." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. "Not a bad old sort." He held out his hand. sir." said Psmith.. it was like this. sir. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. sir. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. let me hear what you wish to course. "It was a very wrong thing to do. For the moment." said Adair. "Well. Smith. tell nobody. Smith. "Of course. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. You think. I shall." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. That was the whole thing.."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. if you do not wish it. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. and then I tore myself away." . "Good-night. Smith. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. "By no means a bad old sort. "but. This is strictly between ourselves. then. "What's he done?" "Nothing. the proper relations boy and--Well.. but he said nothing. as he walked downstairs... Good-night. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion.." There was a pause. never mind that for the present." said the headmaster." "Well. Downing's dog. sir----" Privately." said Psmith. "Well?" said Mike. "You _are_ the limit. of sometimes apt to forget. of course. We had a very pleasant chat." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. sir. Of course." said Psmith cheerfully." said the headmaster hurriedly. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves. quite so." said Psmith meditatively to himself. You are a curious boy.

CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. In a way one might have said that the game was over. "They've got a vacant date." said Psmith. too. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. "My dear Comrade Jackson." said Adair." said Mike. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. "my very best love. Psmith." said he. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day. "you wrong me." "Well. I should think they're certain to. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson. and Wrykyn. You make me writhe. you're a marvel. I'm surprised at you. "Good-night. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won." "Oh. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. chuck it. I believe you did. and that Sedleigh had lost. all the same. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. Adair. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. They walked on towards the houses." said Mike suddenly. "By the way. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game. "And it was jolly good of you." "Well. when you see him. and things were going badly for Sedleigh." Psmith's expression was one of pain. I hope the dickens they'll do it. who had led on the first innings. Psmith thanked him courteously." "What's that?" asked Psmith. There is a certain type of ." said Mike obstinately. for it was a one day match." "And give Comrade Downing." said Mike." * * * * * "I say." said Adair." Psmith moaned. had only to play out time to make the game theirs.

so Adair had chosen to bat first. He had had no choice but to take first innings. with the exception of Adair. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. and the others. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. this in itself was a calamity. and he had fallen after hitting one four. had played inside one from Bruce. assisted by Barnes. Mike. the Wrykyn slow bowler. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. from time immemorial. that Wrykyn were weak this season. but were not comforted. Whereas Wrykyn. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. and were clean bowled. as he did repeatedly. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. Stone.C. Sedleigh. July the twentieth. Experience counts enormously in school matches. Wrykyn had then gone in. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. The weather had been bad for the last batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. and . reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. for seventy-nine. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. and he used it. Ten minutes later the innings was over. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. crawled to the wickets. with Barnes not out sixteen.C. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. Adair did not suffer from panic. Psmith. as a rule. Sedleigh had never been proved. and. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. and from whom. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. declined to hit out at anything. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. on Mike's authority. playing back to half-volleys. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. It was likely to get worse during the day. Unless the first pair make a really good start. He had an enormous reach. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. a collapse almost invariably ensues. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. It was useless for Adair to tell them. the bulwark of the side. but then Wrykyn cricket. several of them. Robinson. the team had been all on the jump. with his score at thirty-five. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. The team listened. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. and Mike. whatever might happen to the others.

Adair declared the innings closed. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. A quarter past six struck. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. the next pair. As is usual at this stage of a match. which was Psmith's. Seventeen for three. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. and he was convinced that. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. and lashed out stoutly. Changes of bowling had been tried. The deficit had been wiped off. Adair bowled him. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. So Drummond and Rigby. as they were crossing over. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. they felt. who had taken six wickets. But. And when Stone came in. who had just reached his fifty. having another knock. As Mike reached the pavilion. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. and which he hit into the pavilion. two runs later. And when. proceeded to play with caution. at any rate. their nervousness had vanished. and refused to hit at the bad. He treated all the bowlers alike. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. especially Psmith. And they had hit. They were playing all the good balls. his slows playing havoc with the tail.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. But Adair and Psmith. and after him Robinson and the rest. with an hour all but five minutes to go. Psmith got the next man stumped. at fifteen. all but a dozen runs. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. skied one to Strachan at cover. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. if they could knock Bruce off. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. when Psmith was bowled. but it was a comfort. It doesn't help my . and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. had never been easy. was getting too dangerous. helped by the wicket. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. restored to his proper frame of mind. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. and the collapse ceased. The time was twenty-five past five. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six.

diving to the right." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. They can get on fixtures with decent . and five wickets were down. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. collapsed uncompromisingly. "I feel like a beastly renegade. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. when Adair took the ball from him. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. Incidentally. The next man seemed to take an age coming out." said Mike. because they won't hit at them. and the tail. I'm glad we won." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. Sedleigh was on top again. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. is to get the thing started. "he was going about in a sort of trance. discussing things in general and the game in particular. "I say. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. Five minutes before. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over." "I suppose they will. I shall have left. and it'll make him happy for weeks. There were twenty-five minutes to go. hitting out. Adair's a jolly good sort. "Still. was a shade too soon. the great thing. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope." "Yes. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. That's what Adair was so keen on. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. After that the thing was a walk-over." said Psmith. playing against Wrykyn." "He bowled awfully well. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. Wrykyn will swamp them. Adair will have left. got to it as he was falling. he's satisfied. Still. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. and Mike.leg-breaks a bit. The batsman. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. and chucked it up." said Psmith. As a matter of fact. you see.

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